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Texas Transportation Thread (Roads, Rails & Skies)

167088 Views 225 Replies 50 Participants Last post by  N830MH
Texas Highways and Interstates

Texas Highways and Interstates

concrete at dusk by TimSchmidt (Digammo), on Flickr

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Just about every highway in DFW has construction going on and the ones that don't will start soon. Many people are starting to grow tired of it.
Well that's what happens when you're in a fast growing state with a strong economy.

Personally, I'd rather deal with the annoyances of construction than see everything crumble...
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Considering how broke TXDOT is, I am curious to see how all of these road construction projects will be funded (more toll road/HOT lane conversions would be my guess)?
Dallas - Houston line's stops: Dallas / Waco / College Station / Houston

Fort Worth - Austin (should be San Antonio) line's stops: Ft. Worth / Waco / Austin / (future) San Antonio

Waco being a possible transfer center...

4 stops for each. After all, those would be the only towns with anything worth having a stop for. The major cities, for obvious reasons. Waco, for being a decent enough sized city. And College Station for A&M.
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What's wrong with the first segment being Fort Worth to Austin? Eventually the line would extend but nothing wrong with starting the line to Austin first.
I realize that, but why not extend it to San Antonio in the FIRST place?
It connects to a larger metro area, albeit not that much larger. But still...
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The long-awaited Montana Freeway in far east El Paso is becoming a reality:

Montana Expressway? Images Show View of Future US 62/180 Freeway

Initially the freeway was to begin taking up traffic just east of the airport but will instead begin further east on Montana Ave. Presumably it could eventually go as far east as Hudspeth County if current development trends in that area continue.
I was just on that road a couple weeks ago...
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I hate Montana Ave. It used to be a leisurely drive past the airport but now it's a free-for-all. El Paso drivers are really giving the Russians a run for their money! :D
Well I guess that's why they want to turn it into a highway.

Didn't really get that vibe, but I was only there for an hour.
Glad to see that project finally moving forward
I'll be happier when we actually see it on tracks.
Some good news...

TEXRail chooses Stadler's FLIRT cars.

Officials working on the proposed TEX Rail commuter train project have gone from being a laughingstock to ordering rolling stock.

After enduring years of doubts about their ability to pull off construction of the 27-mile commuter rail line from downtown Fort Worth to Grapevine and DFW Airport, TEX Rail officials on Tuesday officially inked a contract to order rail cars.

The T President/CEO Paul Ballard, left, and Stadler Rail CEO Peter Spuhler after signing contracts for new TEX Rail cars from Swiss maker Stadler Bussnang AG at Intermodal Transportation Center in Fort Worth.

The T President/CEO Paul Ballard, left, and Stadler Rail CEO Peter Spuhler after signing contracts for new TEX Rail cars from Swiss maker Stadler Bussnang AG at Intermodal Transportation Center in Fort Worth. | MAX FAULKNER STAR-TELEGRAM
The $106.7 million order with Switzerland-based Stadler Bussnang AG is enough to pay for eight rail cars and enough parts to cover 10 years of maintenance. The rail line is tentatively scheduled to open by the end of 2018, and is on course to receive enough federal grant funding to cover roughly half its nearly $1 billion total cost.

The Federal Transit Administration last week gave approval for the T to advance TEX Rail into the engineering phase preceding construction. The move authorized the T to place its order for rail cars.

“We’ve gone from being a project on life support to a project that’s full of life,” said Scott Mahaffey, board chairman of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, also known as the T, which is responsible for TEX Rail.

Mahaffey and several other T officials took part in a signing ceremony Tuesday at the Intermodal Transportation Center in downtown Fort Worth. Joining him at the ceremony was Peter Spuhler, Stadler owner and chief executive.

Spuhler said Stadler was considering opening a manufacturing plant in Lewisville, adjacent to the Denton County Transportation Authority’s maintenance yard, to build the TEX Rail cars. The Denton agency also uses Stadler rail cars, but a different model.

Manufacturing the rail cars in North Texas would help Stadler Rail comply with federal Buy America laws. Those laws require that the cost of components produced in the U.S. make up more than 60 percent of the cost of all components and that final assembly of rolling stock take place in the United States.

In addition to selling rail cars to Fort Worth and Denton, Stadler has a contract with a commuter line in Austin.

“We’ve got three members from Texas, and I think this is a very strong investment in Fort Worth,” Spuhler said after the signing ceremony.

He said a handful of other possible locations for a manufacturing site, including one in Utah, were still under consideration. A final decision on where to build the Stadler cars should be made during the summer.

Wherever the manufacturing plant is built, it likely will create 80 to 100 jobs, another Stadler official said.

FLIRT cars

The specific type of rail car planned for use on TEX Rail is a Stadler FLIRT, an acronym for Fast Light Innovative Regional Train. It is known for providing an extraordinarily quiet ride, panoramic windows and level boarding so people with disabilities don’t have to navigate steps.

Denton’s A-train operates with a similar model.

TEX Rail is scheduled to serve 10 stations, including two stops in downtown Fort Worth, stations in Haltom City, North Richland Hills, Grapevine and a terminus at DFW Airport’s Terminal B.

The projected average daily ridership is more than 10,000 in its initial year of service.

The T is on track to get a full-funding grant agreement from the federal government by early 2016, possibly sooner, said Bob Baulsir, the T’s vice president of TEX Rail and procurement.

Also, the T plans to install new railroad tracks and concrete ties along most of the 27-mile TEX Rail track, and that work is scheduled to begin next year, Baulsir said.

The T has $25 million on hand to place the order for the cars and has access to state and federal grant funds as well as millions of dollars in its fund balance to cover costs if full federal funding is delayed. The T can also issue debt if necessary, Baulsir said.

The rail cars are a type known as diesel multiple units. They are self-propelled, with the engines embedded in the passenger cars, so a locomotive isn’t needed.

The operator rides in a control room at the front of the lead passenger car.

The TEX Rail cars will be the first Stadler FLIRT models to operate on diesel fuel, Spuhler said. Stadler FLIRTs in places such as Estonia are electrified, he said.

The diesel multiple units are designated as the official regional rail car for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, said Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

The rail cars will likely be used on many other rail lines, including a proposed extension of the TEX Rail line along the Cotton Belt corridor into Addison, Carrollton, Dallas, Plano and other cities.
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That is a great looking commuter ... light rail... hybrid ....thingamajig.

I wonder if Houston will look at these models. They are extra quiet is a good thing to.

Wonder why they didn't go with the electric type that they have in Estonia.
It may have been cost issues that kept them from using electric.

Stadler is trying to make a staple here in DFW. They already have the A-Train in Denton using their cars. I believe they're also trying to build a manufacturing plant out here as well.

Not sure if they're going for Houston, but Austin's commuter rail also uses Stadler.
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But anyways, I came back to say; despite most people here's love for rail transit does anyone ever doubt the usefulness of some of these lines?

I traced the route of the TEX rail and there's not a whole lot along the line except suburban sprawl. I think most people in those areas drive. It will be hard to connect stations to adjacent development and its hard to imagine big ambitious TOD appearing along the line. In the end it could get a few thousand riders and that seems to be fairly few.
Same questions were asked and same statements were made about DART Rail and the TRE...
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Fair enough.

But at least the TRE has a downtown on either end, and it can't be downplayed how it makes a few stops in the Medical district too.

Actually if any line needed commuter rail I would love to see trains going to central Arlington. They could stop directly adjacent to the UTA campus.

I can't understand why of all cities in the metroplex, Arlington has never attempted to turn its old downtown(which merges seamlessly with a burgeoning university campus) into something of note.
You have to start somewhere.

Since Fort Worth isn't getting any streetcars or LRT of any kind anytime soon, this is a start since this train BEGINS in Fort Worth. It's useful in that it runs from downtown to DFW International/Terminal B, however, the line is also set up this way for a reason. It may be suburban sprawl (hey... it's Texas. Even Houston and Dallas deal with that and they have already well established rail systems) but the stations and path are useful for the north side of Fort Worth (a heavy industrial area), northeastern Tarrant County area and the Mid-Cities. It passes the Stockyards, which is a National Historic District and one of our city's biggest attractions. It stops in Grapevine, which is still a small town at heart with its traditional, active Main Street downtown and near the Gaylord Texan resort and one of the largest malls in the area.

After this, it will extend to SWFW, which is one of the fastest growing areas in DFW. It will also pass the Near Southside/Medical District, Texas Christian University which also has a reviving neighborhood around it. And depending on what they want to do, there may even be a station next to Montgomery Plaza and there's PLENTY going on in the area of this place, both present and future.

It's taken more than a decade to make this happen, so I'm sure they know what they're doing.
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They have had a vote to join DART. They have also voted down their own proposals twice. Not sure if they have turned down any joint systems with the Fort Worth T.
Pretty sure they have.
Some more Dallas Streetcar & Light Rail Photos from Peter Ehrlich

Dallas Streetcar

DALLAS--302 Outside DART Main Shops. 1 of 2
by Peter Ehrlich, on Flickr
This should have been ours... :picard:
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Was Fort Worth planning a streetcar system?
Yeah... then it was cancelled.
Isn't Arlington the largest city in America without some form of transit?
They have A bus, now. But its routes are limited.
What are the service levels like?
Like this:

4 stops, from 5:30am - 11:30pm.
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Denton has a far more diverse bus route system, that works really well, plus the A Train.
And Denton has much LESS than Arlington... which makes it even more pathetic.
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