Arlington Makes Case for High Speed Rail

Between Rangers and Cowboys games, trips to Six Flags and other major events at the stadiums, millions of people visit Arlington each year.

But one of their biggest complaints to city leaders is that it’s not the most accessible place they’ve been to.

“It’s a hastle, no question about it,” said Mayor Robert Cluck. “You drive from Dallas on I-30 or from Fort Worth on I-30 with all the traffic.”

That’s why he’s pleased discussions are underway to bring high speed rail right through Arlington, from Dallas to Fort Worth.

“I think we have to have something like this,” said Cluck. “It’s critical for Dallas and their needs, Fort Worth and their needs and Arlington.”

The Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration hosted a public meeting in Arlington Wednesday to get input on where the tracks and stops for that railroad should be located.

A similar meeting was held in Fort Worth on Tuesday and a meeting in Dallas is scheduled for Thursday.

Both agencies have indicated that stations should be built in all three cities. Proposed routes include the I-30 corridor and alongside the Trinity Railway Express’s existing line.

There is no funding in place for the project, however, TxDOT did receive a federal grant to complete an environmental impact study on it. That report has to be submitted to the FRA and approved before any construction could take place.

The meetings are key piece of that process.

“Our hope is that the project gets through the environmental clearance and that an investor would be able to take the project and move it to implementation,” said Erik Steavens, Director of Rail Programs for TxDOT.

The earliest the FRA could sign off on the project is 2018.

Previous efforts to bring high speed rail to the Metroplex have failed, primarily because of costs and disputes with land owners over where the tracks will run.

Transportation expert Michael Morris believes things can be different this time and points to another major rail project as the key to making it happen.

“I think this time, it is for real,” said Morris, the Director of Transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. “We have a private sector entity that wishes to spend their own money.”

A private company is currently working to develop high speed rail between Dallas and Houston. If that project goes through, leaders believe other private investors and public entities would be willing to fund the extension to Fort Worth.

“I wouldn’t be [at this meeting] if I didn’t think it was going to work,” said Cluck. “I do think it’s going to work.”

Representatives from the Texas Rangers, Six Flags, Downtown Arlington and the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau all expressed their support for high speed rail in Arlington.

The meeting in Dallas will take place at the Central Library downtown starting at 4:30 p.m.

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