Five stories that have North Texas talking: a Dallas-to-Houston bullet train is closer to reality; a cheetah cub at the Dallas Zoo has died; luxury home sales are booming, and more.
An interesting development was announced Tuesday regarding a proposed high-speed rail line that could take you from Dallas to Houston in just 90 minutes. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the federal government, along with the Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Central High-Speed Railway, are launching an environmental impact study of the proposed line, the Texas Tribune reported. In addition, TxDOT will sponsor a separate study of a slower rail line connecting Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas. KERA’s Shelley Kofler explored the proposed Dallas-to-Houston line back in October – it was one of the most-read stories on KERA’s website in 2013. She reported: "Texas Central Railway wants to build a Dallas-to-Houston corridor for a 200-mph electric train, like the ones that operate in Japan. It would be faster than any train operating in the United States. The bullet train could get from Dallas to Houston in about 90 minutes. A train is still several years away. High-speed rail advocates in Texas believe the private project could jump-start a network of high-speed routes across the state. The U.S. Department of Transportation is already talking with mayors in Austin and San Antonio about connecting their cities."
- Kamau, the Dallas Zoo’s beloved 6-month-old cheetah cub, died Tuesday afternoon from pneumonia. Kamau and his brother, Winspear, became sick last week and were treated around the clock by veterinary staff, the zoo reports. Winspear is recovering and in stable condition. Kamau, who was smaller, became gravely ill Tuesday. Zoo staff tried to resuscitate him. Kamau, pronounced ka-MOWH, died at 2:15 p.m.
- A Texas agency is hiring a seismologist as part of an effort to tackle a sudden increase in earthquakes in areas with significant oil and gas drilling activities. The Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that regulates drilling, said Tuesday it is hiring a seismologist after holding a contentious meeting with residents in Azle. The town, northwest of Fort Worth, has seen an increase in drilling activity in recent years, and is also in an area that has experienced dozens of earthquakes. Catch up on KERA’s earthquake coverage here.
- Sales of North Texas homes costing $1 million or more boomed in 2013. Why? Credit confident consumers and out-of-state buyers, D magazine says. That’s according to luxury-home Realtor Erin Mathews, a principal at the Mathews Nichols Group in Dallas. “Luxury lot sales in Highland Park and University Park—those lots in the $1 million to $3 million range—have just gone crazy,” Mathews tells D magazine in an item posted on its Frontburner blog. There have been lots of teardowns in the Park Cities because many homebuyers discover it’s not feasible to renovate what they’ve bought, Mathews said.
- Variety profiles Fort Worth’s very own T Bone Burnett, the singer/songwriter and producer. He’s busy these days. Variety reports: “He has taken on another music exec producer role for HBO’s forthcoming ‘True Detective’ series starring Matthew McConaughey, and has begun working on ‘The Basement Tapes … Continued,’ an album and film documentary that will resurrect 16 previously lost Bob Dylan lyric sheets from 1967, turning them into new songs and recordings, involving Dylan and some of today’s most acclaimed artists. In addition, Burnett will launch Electromagnetic Recordings, a label venture with Capitol Music Group that will feature a roster ranging from Gregg Allman and Jerry Lee Lewis to the upstart band Mini Mansions, all under Burnett’s production helm.”