There’s been a lot of talk about plans for a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston, but another high-speed train could eventually serve passengers from Oklahoma to South Texas.
The proposed line would run 850 miles along Interstate 35 – from Oklahoma City down to the Rio Grande Valley. The Texas Department of Transportation held a public meeting Thursday in Arlington to discuss the possibility of the high-speed rail service.
Max Werner, rail planning director at TxDOT, said there’s a demand for trains in Texas because the population is growing and congestion along I-35 is getting worse.
"I travel back between Austin and San Antonio a lot, and sometimes it takes three hours and sometimes it takes five hours depending on the traffic," Werner said. "So it’s just reliability and to provide people another option to travel."
TxDOT presented a preliminary study, which looked broadly at costs, benefits and environmental impacts. The department will submit its findings to the Federal Railroad Administration at the end of the year, and the administration will then decide whether to build.
There’s no price tag yet for the project – and no timeline on when construction could begin. The Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study also considered combining conventional rail lines with high-speed lines in certain sectors.
The Arlington meeting was the third and final public comment meeting. Meetings have also been held in Laredo and Austin.
"All of TxDOT’s projects are locally driven," said Becky Ozuna, department spokesperson. "That’s why we come out here to these meetings to get the feedback from the local citizens and from the city officials because it’s really important for us to get the needs and wants of the local citizens met."
TxDOT hasn’t pinpointed exact station locations, but it’s studying several North Texas cities, including Dallas, Fort Worth and Waxahachie, as well as Waco. The trasnportation department is still accepting feedback online at txdot.gov or by mail until Aug. 29.