Path ahead still uncertain for Dallas-to-Fort Worth bullet train

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Regional transportation planners hope to advance a Dallas-to-Fort Worth bullet train, but the path to making the project a reality remains murky.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments shared updates to the proposed project during a public meeting Monday. It would connect to the separate Dallas-to-Houston line led by Texas Central and Amtrak, but unlike its 220-mile counterpart, an agency to lead the project has yet to be identified.
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Also at issue is where the project’s funding would come from and the final alignment. NCTCOG has said it could be funded through a public-private partnership, but funding would be addressed after an outside entity takes on the project.
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The hunt for that agency wouldn’t begin until after the proposed rail line has been environmentally cleared. It’s currently undergoing the National Environmental Policy Act Review process, which is expected to wrap up in early 2025.
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NCTCOG has had preliminary conversations with Amtrak and foreign entities that have successful high-speed rail lines abroad, Wheeler said.
“Especially for foreign investors that see the economic benefit of high-speed rail, they’re very concerned with the NEPA process from a standpoint of it It introduces risk into their pocketbook,” said Brendon Wheeler, transportation planning program manager at NCTCOG. “They don’t know how long it’s going to be, they don’t know how much it’s going to cost. [We said] let us take that on as a region, and then we can promote a project that has a cleared corridor.”
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The Dallas-to-Houston project also remains largely unfunded.
Some Dallas City Council members have previously called into question the need for an expansion of the Dallas-to-Houston leg another 30 miles west. The proposed elevated rail route, which would approach Dallas from the west along Interstate 30, has also come under fire.
Hunt Realty Investments, one of downtown Dallas’ biggest property owners, said in March that the current alignment would compromise a planned $5 billion development. It would slice through the southwest corner of downtown Dallas where Hunt owns the more than 20-acre Reunion property, which includes the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Reunion Tower. A new $3 billion convention center is also being planned near the route downtown.
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An elevated station at the Cedars in Dallas has been federally cleared, making planning directors hesitant to embark on a lengthy process to move it.
NCTCOG is still “working through” some elements of the project with stakeholders, Wheeler said.
Planners have insisted the project would benefit Dallas-Fort Worth by offering more transit options, attracting high-dollar investments around the stations and making the region a destination for travelers.
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“What our project’s intending to do is not just build or plan for a high-speed rail line from Fort Worth to Dallas,” Wheeler said. “It’s intending to bring the fabric of our existing and planned transit systems around the region into a single point to create better access throughout the region.”
The final station locations in Arlington and Fort Worth, both underground, will be identified as part of the environmental clearance process. As of now the Arlington station is expected to be constructed under Interstate 30 near Stadium Drive, while the Fort Worth station would be located between Fort Worth Central Station and Texas A&M University’s new campus.
As Dallas-Fort Worth continues to grow, planners say multimodal transportation solutions will be critical for moving people through the region.
“We’re currently at 8 million people, looking to be about 12 million people in the next 25 years,” Wheeler said. “If we don’t plan for this corridor today, we’re going to lose this corridor.”
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