Texas Central has found companies that will design and build the proposed high-speed rail line that will run from Houston to Dallas.
Once it's built. (If that ever happens.)
The company announced Monday that Irving-based Fluor Enterprises Inc., the primary operating subsidiary of Fluor Corporation, and The Lane Construction Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Salini Impregilo, have both been tapped to help the project move into its next phase.
Texas Central, Fluor and Lane will be working together on refining and updating the project’s construction planning and sequencing, scheduling and cost estimates, procurement and other design, as well as engineering activities related to the civil infrastructure.
The agreement stipulates that Fluor and Lane will be the preferred designer and builder, respectively, of the planned 240-mile high speed rail line that will travel from Houston to Dallas in 90 minutes, with a stop halfway at a station in Brazos Valley.
“We are excited to partner with firms that have deep Texas roots. This is the latest in a long list of Texas-based companies helping build the train,” Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in a release announcing the deal on Monday. “This underscores the attention the Texas Bullet Train has received from world-class firms, wanting to be part of a project that will revolutionize travel here and generate long-lasting local economic benefits.”
While we don't know that this agreement will finally give Texas Central the local ties-feeling that Texas Central officials have sought since the project was first announced in 2014, it does seem to be a step forward in making the bullet train become a reality.
On top of that, the deal gives the project signs of life, despite the efforts of state legislators this year to pass bills that would prevent the rail line from ever being constructed, and despite other efforts from opponents of the proposed bullet train (the ones who largely live in rural areas between the two cities, as we noted in our 2015 cover story, "On the Line").
In response to concerns that Texas Central ultimately planned to try and get state or federal funding to complete the rail line, the company once again claimed that it intends use only private funds for the project. Still, the company has heat to clearly explain how it will raise the rest of the money needed to construct the bullet train line, which will cost at least $15 billion. (Texas Central has raised around $75 million so far, according to the information they've released.)
And the timeline for when the project will break ground is murky as well. Initially, the plan was to begin construction in 2017 and for the rail line to be up and running by 2021, but the timeline has been extended and delayed as the company has dealt with pushback from the public, the struggle to simply raise all the funds needed and regulatory gray areas and delays, as we've previously noted. The current overview of the project notes that it is under a federal environmental review, is awaiting findings from the Federal Railroad Administration and does not offer up a timeline for moving forward.
But either way, those who long to hop on a high-speed train and zip up to Dallas can allow themselves to get a little bit more excited. Texas Central has found companies to design and build the line, so if they get ready to break ground, they will definitely be ready to actually build something.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.