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TxDOT begins passenger rail study

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

TxDOT began a series of statewide public meetings this week to gather input for the Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study. The agency recently began the two-year study to determine whether a passenger rail system should be built between Brownsville and Oklahoma City.
The study will look at the best possible options for the development of passenger trains connecting metropolitan areas such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. The $14 million study is partially funded through a $5.6 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration's High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program.
Texas' population and economy are booming, with much of its growth occurring in the already-congested I-35 corridor.
"While TxDOT continues to explore roadway improvements to keep all of us and our economy moving, other options, such as passenger rail service, fit the needs of many travelers and would reduce demand on the state's roadways. Through the Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study, TxDOT will consider how passenger rail service could fit into this corridor," said a TxDOT press release.
The Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study will evaluate a range of passenger rail service options in an 850-mile corridor from Oklahoma City to south Texas and will conclude with a service-level environmental impact statement. The study will consider the corridor as a whole, as well as three separate portions of the corridor: Oklahoma City to Dallas/Fort Worth; Dallas/Fort Worth to San Antonio; San Antonio to Rio Grande Valley / Corpus Christi / Laredo.
The study is currently in the scoping stage. Scoping is designed to gather input on three topics: • The purpose and need for the study. • The range of intercity passenger rail alternatives to be studied in the EIS. • Environmental resources that could be affected by the proposed rail alternatives.
Scoping is a public process. "As part of the agency record for this action, comments submitted by interested parties may be released in their entirety to a third-party requester, including identifiable personal information such as name, physical address, phone number, or email, if provided," said the release.
Scoping comments may be submitted through Friday, April 26, 2013, on the TxDOT website at TxDOT.gov. Comments may also be mailed to: Mark Werner TxDOT, RRD 125 E. 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701.
"Because the corridor extends into Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is an important partner in the study. In addition, transit service providers, railroads, metropolitan planning organizations, cities and counties, and community members will be engaged throughout the study," the press release concluded.
For more information about the study, visit TxDOT's website.