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Texas gets a teeny bit of high speed rail money

It’s a step forward, but a very very small step.

High-speed rail in Texas, long left for dead, is likely to regain a pulse today when U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announces a $5.6 million grant to plan a passenger rail line from Oklahoma City to the Rio Grande.

The money is part of $2.4 billion in federal grants to be unveiled today for high-speed rail projects, a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration said.

The $5.6 million grant, announced Wednesday by the office of U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, would pay for what is expected to be a 42-month study that would identify a preferred route on existing or new tracks, estimate capital and annual operating costs, project ridership and evaluate environmental effects of passenger rail.

Building high-speed rail from the Texas-Mexico border to Oklahoma, however, would cost billions of dollars. Policymakers have not identified a source for the money.

The grant is only half of what the Texas Department of Transportation requested for what it estimated would be a $14 million study. TxDOT will contribute $2.8 million from money the agency had approved for the Lone Star Rail District, the agency that hopes someday to build commuter rail between Georgetown and San Antonio.

The $11.2 million grant application did not mention any contribution from Oklahoma.

TxDOT had requested an additional $8.1 million to study passenger rail from Austin to Houston and from Houston to Dallas. But Sarah Dohl , Doggett’s communications director, said the $5.6 million is all the state will get.

Better than nothing, but still. Don’t spend it all in one place.

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