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The Mayors opine for high speed rail

They pen an editorial in its favor.

We are proud to be mayors of three of the largest and fastest-growing cities in America. Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston have weathered the recent economic downturn and are now the engines powering our state’s tremendous job growth. While we celebrate the individual successes of our respective cities, we also recognize how important Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston are to each other.

With the bounty of economic growth comes the challenge of thousands of new people relocating to our cities, as well as increased commerce in the form of trucks on our highways. Moreover, many Texans are surprised to learn that over 50,000 “super-commuters” travel between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston more than once a week. Additionally, millions of our respective residents have friends and family separated by the 240-mile stretch of Interstate 45. These factors create congestion and place a massive and growing strain on our infrastructure.

[…]

One of the reasons high-speed rail projects in the United States have been unsuccessful thus far is that they have relied solely on government funding for completion. We hope that Texas Central Railway can succeed because its approach to this project is unique. For the first time, we are seeing a market-driven approach to high-speed rail led by private investment. We applaud the way in which Texas Central brought a much-needed project, an innovative approach and its checkbook to Texas.

Countries across Europe and Asia have enjoyed high-speed rail service for decades, but the United States is not yet home to the kind of rail line proposed by Texas Central. As Texans, we take great pride in blazing a path for the rest of the country to follow. This effort will do just that.

High-speed rail will provide a travel alternative that will help alleviate congestion on I-45, create thousands of quality jobs and may help Texas travelers reduce their carbon footprint. We look forward to the day when the residents of Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth can travel on a high-speed rail between our two metropolitan areas in fewer than 90 minutes.

See here for the background. The same op-ed ran in the Chron on Monday as well. I would quibble with the wording of that first sentence in the third from last paragraph – as with anything related to government funding, politics is always the bigger issue than the funding itself. Be that as it may, as the TCR folks will readily tell you, the Houston-Dallas corridor is uniquely well-suited for their project – two huge urban centers a workable distance apart, separated by a lot of flat and empty land with existing freight rail rights of way to leverage. I absolutely hope TCR will be a big success that will serve as a catalyst for other rail projects, beginning with the completion of the Texas Triangle, with a Houston-Austin connection and extensions to Galveston, Oklahoma City, and Laredo/Monterrey, but I don’t know that I’d expect subsequent projects to follow the same business model. It’s entirely reasonable to me that some greater form of government involvement, perhaps a public-private partnership, may be needed for future lines. Or maybe this will be so successful it will demonstrate that somewhat less optimal alignments can still make money. It’s way too early to tell.

Anyway. Since the op-ed mentioned supercommuters, I thought I’d refer back to this blog post about them, because we have quite a few in Texas. While the TCR line will undoubtedly make life easier for these hardy folks, I don’t think that will directly affect traffic much – I figure the bi-metro types either fly or do their driving on weekends and other non-prime times. Getting them off the road will still be a big win environmentally, of course. There’s just a lot to like about this.

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