Or it could all be killed by the Freedom Caucus nihilists. That’s just how these things go these days.
A passenger rail line project touted as a major connectivity and economic boost to the Fort Worth region and beyond could soon be at risk amid proposed federal budget cuts to Amtrak.
Since 2006, members of the I-20 Corridor Council have been working with Amtrak and other regional partners to connect Fort Worth to Atlanta, creating an east-west connection that could eventually be part of the transnational corridor between Los Angeles and New York City.
The passage of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021 — which allocated $66 billion in rail service investment — made the 815-mile long-distance route between Fort Worth and Atlanta more of a reality. However, the U.S. House proposed a 64% cut to Amtrak’s 2024 budget has rail advocates worried about its impact on major rail projects, including the Fort Worth-Atlanta line.
“Amtrak has advised us that this (project) is one of their top three priorities,” said Richard Anderson, chairman of the I-20 Corridor Council. “I would anticipate that, if there’s that draconian of a reduction, that we will see a corresponding reduction, if not elimination, of the I-20 corridor.”
Amtrak is currently working on extending two service lines out of Fort Worth. The first would connect Fort Worth to Atlanta, along Interstate 20, adding the missing link from Marshall to Meridian, Mississippi. This project would connect the current Texas Eagle line, which runs between San Antonio and Chicago, and the Crescent line, which runs from New Orleans to New York.
The second project would extend the Heartland Flyer line, which currently runs between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City, up to Newton, Kansas.
A possible Amtrak line between Fort Worth and El Paso is being explored as part of the Federal Railroad Administration Long-Distance Service Study. This rail line was lost 50 years ago, said Marc Magliari, senior public relations manager at Amtrak. A report is expected in the spring or summer of 2024.
You can see a fuller map of all the existing lines that would be connected by this project on the I-20 Corridor Council page. There’s a separate project for a high speed rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth, and Amtrak recently announced a partnership with Texas Central for its Houston to Dallas line. I don’t think either of those would be affected by these shenanigans, but I don’t know that for a fact. I do know there are a couple of retiring Republicans who represent this area and who might try to exert some influence over their more frothing-at-the-mouth brethren and sistren, if they care for this. I also know I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that. Best hope – and goal to work for – is for the maniacs to flame out as they usually do and then have the Dems take over again in 2025 so we can avoid this tired bit of nonsense, at least for awhile. In the meantime, here we are.