A more concrete picture of the high-speed bullet train from Dallas to Houston is emerging now that Texas Central Railway, the private company behind the multibillion dollar project, has revealed the two routes the line may take.
The bullet train, meant to rival air travel between the two cities, will reportedly be built with an estimated $10 billion in private funding and will -- in theory -- travel at speeds of about 200 miles per hour, connecting travelers between the two cities in 90 minutes flat.
In order to move forward, the company is federally required to study the environmental impact of the proposed project. Of the nine route options that were proposed initially, two have been chosen for further evaluation.
One of the proposed routes will be following the BNSF Railway, which covers a lot of the Tomball area and then hooks along Loop 610 before heading south. The other connects with Cypress and follows the crowded U.S. 290 corridor.
On the surface, both routes appear to have their benefits -- especially 290, given that it is the traffic corridor from hell, and could use a high-speed boost -- but a number of other questions are surfacing from residents of the communities along the proposed routes.
It's not yet clear how or if either of the two routes would make their way into Houston's downtown area, which could be a glaring issue for business travelers. Considering that the ticket cost is expected to rival a flight from Dallas to Houston, one would expect that downtown would be a necessary stop for such travelers.
But while Dallas' end will definitely have a downtown train station, so far there are no answers yet on where such a stop would be. According to Texas Central Railway officials, Union Station is not an option, and five other downtown Dallas locations are under review, but none have been selected. Factors such as the potential for land development around the station will play into the decision.
Questions about the impact the train will have on the farming and ranching areas have also been raised. Under both proposed routes, the train will cross a number of small towns and private properties, and there is concern about the environmental impact it will have on these areas.
Federal officials have stated that these two routes stand out in terms of minimizing impact on the environment and those property owners, as one would go inside or along the existing right-of-way owned by BNSF Railway, and the other would travel along the routes of high-voltage electric transmission lines. However, both would still cross significant amounts of private land.
A number of public scoping meetings have been scheduled over the next few weeks in order to give residents from North Texas to Houston an opportunity to ask questions about the proposal. The Houston public meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 29 starting at 4:30 p.m. at NRG Center, with a presentation and public comment session to follow.
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