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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Local Texas governments form high-speed rail organization


Last week, Texas government officials formed the South Central High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp., an organization that will serve as the “authority and operational arm to bring true high-speed rail to Texas,” says Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, who also is president of advocacy group the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp.

The ultimate goal? To build out the proposed “Texas T-Bone” high-speed system, which calls for building a line from San Antonio through Austin to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, and another corridor between Houston and Temple that intersects the San Antonio-to-DFW line.

The proposed system would  provide high-speed rail access to the 16 million people that currently live along the corridor. During the next 30 years, an additional 50 million people are expected to flood the state, and 80 percent of them would live in the T-Bone corridor, says Fickes.

“We think we have the right population base, the right terrain and right distance between cities to make this work,” he says.

The organization currently has a handful of members, including Tarrant and Hill counties, College Station, Austin and Travis County. Commission members expect the cities of San Antonio and Houston to join the group in the next month.

“We’ll continue to bring in partners to our local government corporation,” says Fickes. “Then, at some point, we’ll be working with a private-sector company that would come in and put their dollars at risk to build a high-speed program in Texas. We’re not expecting the taxpayers to front this bill.”

Earlier this year, the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp. applied for federal high-speed rail stimulus funds through the Texas Department of Transportation to begin planning work for the T-Bone corridor. Members of the South Central High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp. hope their efforts to bring local governments together for the sake of high-speed planning helps the state land at least some of the federal money that’s available.

“The money that’s out there is a drop in the bucket,” says Fickes. “That money will get spread through all types of rail systems and speeds, and we just hope to get enough to get our environmental studies done and some work on the right of way and initial corridors.”

Angela Cotey

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/23/2009