First come the studies and the public hearings. Then we wait and see what happens.
The Texas Transportation Commission is expected to vote Thursday at its monthly meeting on the creation of a high-speed rail commission focused on the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Separately, TxDOT is holding a series of public meetings around Texas and Oklahoma, starting this week, to hear comments on a study looking at the feasibility of high-speed rail projects between Oklahoma City and South Texas.
Texas Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff stressed that the two initiatives should not be interpreted as a decision by TxDOT to develop any high-speed rail projects in Texas.
“We have not yet discussed a broader charge with respect to transportation policy and funding,” Vandergriff said Friday in Dallas at the Southwestern Rail Conference, which was hosted by Texas Rail Advocates. “The Legislature sets our course for that.”
The new high-speed rail commission will advise state transportation officials on “the development of intercity rail corridors, new transportation policies, and funding and procurement strategies as they relate to the implementation of proposed high-speed rail connecting the Dallas and Fort Worth areas,” according to TxDOT’s agenda for the meeting.
“It is a limited purpose and scope assignment,” Vandergriff said. “It is not an indication that there is any funding for high-speed rail.”
TxDOT launched its Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study last year to take a wide-angle look at the impact of potential rail service projects between Oklahoma City and the Texas-Mexico border. This month, TxDOT officials announced plans to expand the scope of the study south, to Monterrey, Mexico, to account for interest in building a high-speed rail line between Monterrey and San Antonio.
See here and here for the most recent entries in this saga. The schedule for TxDOT’s public meetings on the Texas-Oklahoma prject is here. As for the Houston-Dallas privately funded project, Chron transportation reporter Dug Begley has more on what they’re saying. Texas Central High-Speed Railway is expected to file some federal documents in April that will tell us more about their plans, including their preferred route. I’ll be keeping an eye out for that.