The Woodlands Township is urging federal and state officials to take another look at the potential benefits of adding a high-speed rail corridor along Interstate 45.
Last month, the Federal Railway Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation revealed two potential routes for a proposed bullet train that could one day connect Dallas and Houston by rail, but neither of the routes under review would come down I-45 in fast-growing Montgomery County.
Miles McKinney, legislative affairs and transportation manager for The Woodlands, said there is still time for it and surrounding communities to have some influence on the direction of the project.
“We’ve taken and written a letter asking them to reinstate the I-45 corridor for consideration and to think about it one more time and at least assess it before condemning it,” he said.
State and federal transportation officials recently narrowed the list of potential routes from nine to two. The excluded lines seemed a bit longer, which could prove more costly for a project that already has a price tag of more than $10 billion.
The route that local leaders wants transportation officials to explore is referred to as the Green Field Route. It would begin in Dallas and travel along I-45, passing through Huntsville and Montgomery County before ending in downtown Houston.
The interstate highway runs the length of Montgomery County, whose population is projected to increase from 500,000 to 1.1 million by 2040.
Given the growth of the area, McKinney said, it may be wise to ask transportation officials leading the project to consider adding a rail station north of Houston, near the Grand Parkway and The Woodlands.
See here for the background, and click the embedded image to see all of the proposed routes. I can’t argue with the logic, and in fact in past conversations I’ve had with the Texas Central Railway folks, I myself have suggested that a Woodlands-area station might make sense for them. The two “recommended” routes were chosen because they were the lowest cost, which is a non-trivial consideration in a $10 billion project. A big complicating factor is how routing the trains along I-45 might effect the cost and feasibility of bringing the trains to downtown Houston, where the terminal ought to be and is most likely to be. One possible route into downtown involves the same corridor as a proposed commuter rail line along 290, which obviously isn’t compatible with a Woodlands-friendly location. I don’t know what the best answer is, and unfortunately not everyone can be accommodated. Good luck figuring it all out.
By the way, the Central Japan Railway Company, one of the backers of Texas Central Railway, recently began test runs of a maglev train that can reach 300 miles per hour. By the time this line is finished, it could provide an even quicker ride between Dallas and Houston. Yeah, I’m excited by the prospect.