Written by Staff
By Elaine Paniszczyn
With an average of 1,000 people moving into the state of Texas each and every day, the current widening of the state’s roadways may not suffice for long. Anybody who drives Interstate 35 (I-35) knows how traffic backs up during rush hours.
A federally-funded Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study (TOPRS) is evaluating existing passenger rail services in an 850-mile corridor from Oklahoma City to south Texas as a potential future transportation option to help reduce demands on the state’s roadways, particularly along the highly-congested I-35. Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials were in Dallas Wed., April 3, gathering public input for the study. Twelve such meetings took place across the state in March and April.
“We have no preconceived notion; we’re looking for input from the public so that we can then form what the citizens of Texas want for passenger rail service,” said William E Glavin, Rail Division Director, TxDOT. “And of course the option could always be a no-bill – everybody’s happy with what we currently have.
Glavin said that public opinion varies from region to region within the state.
“It’s everything from ‘If we’re going to have rail service, it’s got to compete with cars. Therefore, it’s has to be 220 miles per hour. If it isn’t that fast, it doesn’t make any sense’ to ‘We really don’t need anything that fast. We can overlay existing freight lines; we’re perfectly happy with it taking four hours to get between Dallas and Austin and five hours to go on to San Antonio’ – so an 80 mile per hour average speed.
“An 80 mile per hour average speed means a top speed to 120 (mph), probably because of geometries and everything else,” Glaven said. “If you’re moving at a slower speed, you will probably, typically make more stops. At the higher speeds, the speed being the factor in attracting the ridership, then the fewer stops you would make.