Texas Central Railway's plan, announced almost a year ago now, to build a high-speed rail line linking Houston and North Texas has hit a not altogether unexpected complication: inter-city squabbling over where the bullet train will stop.
In Mobility 2035, its long-term vision for transportation in the region, the North Central Texas Council of Governments envisioned three stations: one in downtown Dallas; one in Arlington or at DFW Airport; and one in Fort Worth. Under the plan, everybody won, and everyone was happy.
Problem is, when it came to funding the environmental impact study needed to move forward, the Texas Department of Transportation decided only to cover the Dallas stop. This upset the delicate regional balance achieved by giving everyone everything and threatened to stoke a rivalry that could slow the project to a crawl.
North Texas' Republican delegation in the state Senate has inserted itself into the argument. Last month, Senators John Carona (Dallas), Ken Paxton (Plano), Jane Nelson (Flower Mound), Bob Deuell (Greenville), and Kelly Hancock (North Richland Hills) sent a joint letter to TxDOT executive director Phil Wilson urging him to split the baby and run the rail line up the State Highway 360 corridor and straight into DFW Airport. Neither Dallas nor Fort Worth would have a station.
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"Every city in the DFW Metroplex cannot have direct high-speed rail service - the cost is too great, and connecting every city directly would not be efficient," they write. "In order to receive the greatest return on an investment, an alignment into the Metroplex ... to the A and B terminal area of the DFW International Airport, must be encouraged."
DFW is already a regional hub, they write, channeling an overcaffeinated airport PR team. It has parking, taxis, bus service rental cars, light rail access (almost), "as well as an award-winning, state of the art people-mover system, the Skylink. "Through high-speed rail service, the airport will become the national and international model for an integrated transportation hub for the 21st century - what some have termed an 'aerotropolis.'"
They wax on about the immense benefit of high-speed rail and Texas' bright future as the most populous state in the country and urge TxDOT not to drop the ball. "This decision is a one hundred year decision, and we must get it right." Really, though, they had us at "aerotropolis."