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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
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Some recent Texas brouhaha:
Ft. Worth Star Telegram

Dispute may derail arrival of high-speed trains in D-FW
Posted Wednesday, May. 11, 2011

By Gordon Dickson

[email protected]

ARLINGTON -- Just as the effort to bring high-speed rail to Texas is gaining steam, a dispute over what kind of service to bring to the state and where to build the stations threatens to derail the project.

Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes is among those who favors 200-mph trains on elevated tracks -- possibly on right of way along Texas 360 in Arlington -- to one station at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. From there, a passenger could hop on a train and be in Houston in about 80 minutes, stopping only a few times to pick up passengers along the 250-mile journey.

Such a system would cost much more than other proposals but could be privately funded, and would be better for the state long term, Fickes argues. A Japanese company has already moved to Texas to put together a bullet-train proposal. "I don't want to spend $5 billion to $10 billion for something that will fail, when we could do something better that could last us 100 years," Fickes said. He is chairman of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp., which for several years has tried to align political and business forces to get a bullet-style train system built in the state.

But other North Texas officials favor improving existing freight rail lines so they could serve not only D/FW Airport, but also the downtowns of Fort Worth and Dallas, and foster new development in the city centers. Today, passenger trains in the populated areas can go no more than 79 mph in freight corridors, but with several billion dollars of improvements, supporters believe that they could achieve speeds of up to 150 mph.

The downtown-centric plan is favored by officials in Fort Worth and Dallas and endorsed by the Regional Transportation Council, the region's official planning body, which will discuss the issue today in Arlington. Either type of train service could meet the definition of high-speed rail. "Our previous mayor, the current mayor and the next mayor has made a decision that we want this rail coming to Union Station [in downtown Dallas], and I believe Fort Worth is in a similar situation," said Dallas Councilman Ron Natinsky, regional council chairman and a Dallas mayoral candidate.

Recent progress

Texas is many years behind other states in developing high-speed rail, but it has made progress in recent months. The Texas Department of Transportation created a rail division and is pursuing a broad plan to eventually connect North Texas to Austin, Houston, San Antonio and cities in neighboring states such as Oklahoma City and Little Rock.

On Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that $15 million had been awarded to Texas for design of a high-speed rail line connecting Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston. It was part of a $2 billion program that included the redistribution of money initially awarded to Florida for development of a high-speed-rail line from Tampa to Orlando.

In Texas, the Transportation Department has initiated a study of high-speed rail from Oklahoma City to South Texas, following the route used by Amtrak's Heartland Flyer and Texas Eagle, both of which stop each day in Fort Worth. The agency received a $5.8 million high-speed-rail grant last year and is taking the initial steps toward modeling ridership and analyzing the impact of such a project.

Ruffled feathers

Last month the regional council approved its Mobility 2035 plan that called for high-speed-rail stations to be built in downtown Fort Worth and Dallas, meaning that at least temporarily, the plan for bullet-style trains serving a single station at D/FW Airport won't be pursued.

That ruffled the feathers of Fickes and others who think that council members acted hastily, without giving them a chance to explain the benefits of the other option. A Japanese company, JR Central Railway, has set up shop in Texas and plans to submit a proposal to build the high-speed-rail line from D/FW to Houston with private-sector funding, said Fickes, who added that he has met with the group several times.

Lone Star High Speed Rail believes that the D/FW-to-Houston line can be built without federal or state funding, although the cooperation of government agencies would be needed for planning, environmental review and any right of way crossing public property. The idea would be to build a rail service that is paid for by passengers, said Robert Eckels, a former Harris County judge and president of Lone Star High Speed Rail.

But regional council members noted during a high-speed rail committee meeting last week that, although they've heard rumors for several years about the private sector's interest in a D/FW-to-Houston line, they've never actually seen a document spelling out the details and commitments. "Our plan is to welcome whoever rings our doorbell," said Michael Morris, North Central Texas Council of Governments transportation director.



Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/05/11/3069057/dispute-may-derail-arrival-of.html#ixzz1OAU9lCos
 

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Captain
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I still can't believe that Florida's governor turned down HSR funds for the state...
 

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Skybar Mod
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Georgia, Tennessee partner to request $34 million for HSR project

The Georgia and Tennessee departments of transportation have partnered to file an application seeking $34 million in Federal Railroad Administration FY2010 appropriation grants to advance development of high-speed rail service between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn.

The line is designed to stretch to Nashville, Tenn., and then, eventually, to Louisville, Ky.


The proceeds would help support ongoing environmental planning and engineering work between Atlanta and Chattanooga, fund design-approved stations along the corridor, and pay for the creation of a comprehensive plan for high-speed service that eventually would stretch from Florida to Chicago, GDOT officials said in a prepared statement.

Under the FY2010 appropriations grant program, the FRA will provide $2.1 billion in HSR grants and an additional $245 million for individual construction projects within an HSR corridor. The agency expects to announce grant awards for the separate $2.1 billion and $245 million in FY2010 appropriations by Sept. 30.
Source
 

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HSR in Florida is stupid. It's needed in the Northeast a lot more, not to connect Miami and Orlando.
I actually agree with this. HSR in Florida is more of a civic feather-in-the-cap than anything. It would be a 'cool' thing for more-urban-than-thou types to have in their respective regions.
 

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
HSR in Florida is stupid. It's needed in the Northeast a lot more, not to connect Miami and Orlando.
That's a fallacious argument since the Northeast Corridor was already allocated a large sum to begin HSR planning and development. And it clearly has been given the highest priority. What Florida walked away from was less money that was allocated for its own developments, money that simply didn't impact progress in the Northeast. And you can argue all you like that only the Northeast should have HSR but the political consequences of such an arrangement would have been a complete obstruction of any HSR development. Also, sneering at the 19 million residents of Florida and the 40+ million tourists and visitors to Miami and Orlando isn't a winning strategy either, given the fact that few places anywhere in the US can match or exceed those numbers. Florida will get HSR one way or another, and there's ample evidence that a public/private development could get a system up there faster than the purely public one envisioned for the Northeast.
 

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Captain
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^^ To further elaborate on DPs statement. The funding of HSR in the Northeast Megalopolis and California are hopefully the beginning of a nationwide system which will be expanded upon. For the time being they are stand alone systems but over the decades to come they will become interconected. The refusal of funding by Florida's governor could setback HSR in the greater southeast area such as GA, SC and NC as the system expands southward from the Northeast rather than northward from Florida.
 

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That's a fallacious argument since the Northeast Corridor was already allocated a large sum to begin HSR planning and development. And it clearly has been given the highest priority. What Florida walked away from was less money that was allocated for its own developments, money that simply didn't impact progress in the Northeast. And you can argue all you like that only the Northeast should have HSR but the political consequences of such an arrangement would have been a complete obstruction of any HSR development. Also, sneering at the 19 million residents of Florida and the 40+ million tourists and visitors to Miami and Orlando isn't a winning strategy either, given the fact that few places anywhere in the US can match or exceed those numbers. Florida will get HSR one way or another, and there's ample evidence that a public/private development could get a system up there faster than the purely public one envisioned for the Northeast.
^ I agree especially with those population & tourist numbers also. There is enough of a market in Florida and there was a study that said the route would be profittable. This was Rick Scott basically rejecting Obama and his "stimulus" just to score a cheap political point.
 

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
^ I agree especially with those population & tourist numbers also. There is enough of a market in Florida and there was a study that said the route would be profittable. This was Rick Scott basically rejecting Obama and his "stimulus" just to score a cheap political point.
Yeah, Governor Scott ignores his own feasibility study that showed overseas institutional and sovereign wealth fund investors ready to pour hundreds of millions if not billions into a Florida HSR! The capital is there but that one-term flunkie was more interested in a sound bite. Idiot.
 

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Oh No He Didn't
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Yeah, Governor Scott ignores his own feasibility study that showed overseas institutional and sovereign wealth fund investors ready to pour hundreds of millions if not billions into a Florida HSR! The capital is there but that one-term flunkie was more interested in a sound bite. Idiot.
I am sure some "lobbyists" from the construction industry also "influenced" his descision. :eek:hno:
 

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I saw an advertisement on TV about this train where they bragged about it and then said, "But it's not in America....it's in CHINA". Then they tell you that you should begin investing in China....when will people in the USA/Government wake up? Am I the only one that see's what's going on here? Love it, China..show the US how to do it...we are so [email protected]#in backward.


 

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Every fully industrialized country in the world already has High Speed Rail...except the USA.

Every country with an emerging economy is investing in High Speed Rail...except the USA.

To combat the global recession, all major countries are investing heavily in High Speed Rail...except the USA.

When the recession is over, all of the above countries will be in a better position to benefit from the prosperity...

...yep...

...except the USA.

 

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
DallasObserver

Read TxDOT's Rationale For Need For High Speed Rail Between Houston, DFW (Or ... Not?)
By Robert WilonskyFri., Nov. 4 2011



On Tuesday we noted that the Texas Department of Transportation is looking for a firm to ID would-be routes for a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, using $15 million in Federal Railway Administration High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funds awarded over the summer. Shortly after that, this landed in the Unfair Park in-box courtesy an interested party out of Houston: TxDOT's summary of the project, which was sent to the feds earlier this year.

Full of maps and charts, it's the best sum-up I've seen yet about where TxDOT thinks the rail would run and why. And it even mentions Southwest Airlines, which, as many Friends of Unfair Park pointed out earlier this week, has long opposed high-speed rail.

Although not mentioned in the TxDOT research project, even with over 100 flights daily, air travel between Dallas and Houston has experienced a decline in passengers of over 36% since 1990, according to a published report by the Dallas Morning News on January 9, 2011. The major contributing reasons for this decline were heightened security at the airports, rising cost in airfares, and a change in marketing geared toward an emphasis on longer flights, which may make core express service more appealing. Southwest Airlines, once an opponent of a HSR project, has seen a decline in annual passengers between Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby Airport from 1.5M passengers in 1990 to 1.0M in 2009.
But, says the sender of this doc, the most intriguing revelations made in the doc are the figures found on Page 24: the potential cost of the project (around $4 billion for close to 250 miles of track) and the time it's guesstimated it would take to travel from Dallas to Houston (between 190 and 200 minutes). Says the man who dispatched the doc: "This is 15 million dollars that will be absolutely wasted." Read the whole thing after the jump.

TXDOT Overview of HSR

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The Triangle is an auto-centric region desperate for some real transit solutions. This is a summary from The Raleigh Connoisseur of the plan that was presented at last night's Raleigh City Council meeting.

The draft Wake County Transit Plan takes a two-pronged approach to meeting increasing transit needs as the county continues to grow. Wake County’s population, set at about 901,000 in the 2010 U.S. Census, is projected to top 1 million by 2015 and 1.5 million by 2035. The transit plan’s two-pronged approach is:

A Core Transit Plan that would expand local and commuter bus service and build a rush-hour 37-mile commuter rail service from Garner to Durham. It would also provide amenities such as park-and-ride lots, sidewalks, signage and bus shelters, benches and other improvements; and,

An Enhanced Transit Plan that would build light-rail service from Downtown Cary through Downtown Raleigh, up to Millbrook Road in north Raleigh. The route would cover 13.9 miles.

Wake County’s share of the of the five-year bus services improvements in the plan would be $138.3 million of the total $344 million needed for both capital and operating costs. The remaining funds would come from state and federal funds. The commuter rail service would cost $650 million, with Wake County’s share at $330 million and Durham County’s at $320 million. The commuter rail system is projected to begin operations in 2019 or 2020.
Wake-Durham Commuter Rail:


Raleigh-Cary Light Rail:


The Wake County Government website has all the details. This would be more encouraging if the leadership in the Triangle was a bit more proactive.
 
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