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Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth Mayors Throw Support Behind Texas High-Speed Rail

Proposals still need regulatory approval, funding

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    A passenger looks at a CRH (China Railway High-speed) "bullet train" at Hangzhou Railway Station January 28 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. China's bullet train, the nation's fastest train, can run at a top speed of 250 kph (155 mph), and would cut the journey time on the Beijing-Shanghai route from nine hours to five.

    On Thursday, the mayors of Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston announced their support for high-speed rail service that could whisk people between Houston and North Texas in only 90 minutes.

    The plan, promoted by Texas Central High-Speed Railway, has not yet been approved by federal regulators, though the Federal Railroad Administration has approved $15 million in funding for an engineering and environmental analysis of the proposed high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas.

    Should the proposal become a reality, bullet trains traveling at about 200 mph would carry people from North Texas to Houston and eventually Austin and San Antonio, sparing them hours spent on the road or in airports.

    From Houston, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings all threw their support behind the project on Thursday.

    According to a news release by the three mayors, "nearly 50,000 Texans travel back and forth between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth on Interstate 45 more than once a week. Traveling between the two cities currently takes approximately four hours, and according to TxDOT this commute is expected to increase by 75 percent to close to seven hours by 2035."

    “With Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth being two of the largest and fastest growing metropolitan areas in America, we are both faced with many of the same challenges: growing traffic congestion, ever-increasing commutes and limited public transportation dollars from the state. It is imperative that we give our residents an innovative alternative. If successful, Houstonians will have a reliable, private alternative that will help alleviate traffic congestion and drastically reduce travel times,” said Parker.

    “This innovative project is a game changer for transportation between the two engines that drive job creation throughout Texas,” Rawlings said. “Not only will high-speed rail significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion for Dallas and Houston area residents, but it will also create new, high-paying jobs and stimulate economic growth.”

    Supporters of the plan say high-speed rail will not only ease congestion, but reduce the impact of travel on the environment.

    "The bullet train will expend a fraction of the carbon dioxide produced by current transportation, reducing Texans’ carbon footprint and helping travelers act as better stewards of our environment," according to the mayors' news release.

    During the presentation, Price said TxDOT is expected to announce a 7-member committee made up of members from Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth who will begin working on the feasibility of extending the high-speed rail project to the western side of the Metroplex, through Arlington and into Fort Worth.

    In the news release, the mayors said "an effort has also been set in motion to extend high-speed rail service from Dallas through Arlington and into Fort Worth. The Texas Transportation Commission appointed members of the North Texas High Speed Rail Commission to find innovative ways to build a high-speed rail system between Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas."

    Price said money for the privately-funded rail system would come from different sources but would create a single system to "accommodate the growth in Fort Worth, and in Dallas, Arlington and Houston, and to accommodate Texas' incredible, robust economy."

    "We want our citizens to know that as mayors we stand united to make Texas, and our regions, a better place to be," Price said Thursday in Houston.

    Read more from on this from our partner, The Dallas Morning News.