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Still seeking a downtown connection for the high speed rail line

I’m hoping one gets found.

Texas Central Partners, the private firm proposing the Houston-to-Dallas line, briefed a city council committee Monday, telling officials they remain on track to break ground in late 2017.

“That might slide into early 2018,” said Shaun McCabe, vice-president of Texas Central Railway.

Any connection to downtown, which would likely require public funding, would be built later, said Holly Reed, manager of external affairs for Texas Central Partners.


“I am concerned there is a possibility of land-locking my district,” District A Councilwoman Brenda Stardig said, noting details have made it hard to determine the traffic effects the line will have.

The train line would run parallel to U.S. 290, Hempstead Highway and a freight rail line, which Stardig said could be too much for the area to overcome in terms of crossings and large impediments cutting the neighborhoods in half.

The lack of a downtown connection, meanwhile, continues to worry some officials, including [District K Council Member Larry] Green and Mayor Sylvester Turner. Houston Public Works has a pending request for proposals for an engineering firm to study the downtown link in greater detail. Green said the study would give Houston more information about the importance of a downtown link, which would then be turned over to the company so they can consider a possible link.

“It might make sense for them to do it,” Green said. “We as a city want to know what the impact would be and is there another way.”

Reed, the Texas Central spokeswoman, said the company would consider any alternative outside its own plans as “complimentary” to its own plans. She compared the Houston discussion to a similar conversation happening in the Dallas area, where a link to Fort Worth is being studied.

That extension, however, is predicated on public funding, Reed said.

I would point out that the Gulf Coast Rail District is studying this issue as well, and as noted in that first link if anything comes of this it would involve multiple entities, including the GCRD, H-GAC, Metro, TxDOT, and the city of Houston. How that would work, where such a connector would be located, who pays for what – those questions and many more remain to be answered. The point is that someone is at least thinking about them. As for TCR, their draft environmental impact statement is expected in summer or fall, and there will be public meetings after that, as there were with Metro and the light rail lines. I’m sure some of them will be quite eventful. The deadline for responses to the city’s request for a study of options connecting the high speed rail terminal to downtown is May 27. KUHF has more.

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  1. voter_worker says:

    I just received a Facebook update from the I-45 Coalition and it drives home with a sledgehammer the funding and scope disparity between highway projects and any other transport option. Our society can somehow swing massively expensive and disruptive projects like the I-45 rebuild and the 610-59 interchange rebuild, but a pissant project (by comparison) like this has studies and handwringing and little more, and if it even happens will likely be something cobbled together and run on a shoestring. In my hypothetical alternate universe the referenced highway projects would be deferred 25 years when we’ll probably know what’s up with autonomous vehicles, and those resources would be directed toward a commuter heavy rail line from Brookshire to Baytown, linking downtown and the high speed rail terminal. Sorry but I just felt like venting.

  2. Jules says:

    The point of Texas Central’s high speed rail project is for a few people to turn a few million dollars into a few billion dollars. The people behind Texas Central will make their money during the construction phase, from salaries, consulting fees and whatnot. They won’t care if Texas Central has to default on federal loans, because they will have already made their money.

    The station location in Dallas was chosen because one of the people already owned the land.

    I’m tired of my neighborhood being under threat from this ridiculous project.

    There haven’t been any published studies that say this will work at all, and it’s a knee-jerk reaction to think this thing needs to come downtown. Most of the people who live downtown are incarcerated, and aren’t going to ride this train. And most of the people who work in the Houston area don’t work downtown.

    This is Houston, not Tokyo.