May 13, 2024 - TRA Newswire -

In a surprise move, the Dallas City Council voted 14-0 this week against plans for an elevated high-speed rail line on the western fringe of downtown, throwing a time-consuming monkey wrench into a long-sought-after project that would have regional and statewide transportation impact. The resolution came from the Economic Development Committee and there is speculation that  deep-pocket developers may have pushed the issue forward.  An economic impact analysis was requested by the City Council in March but due to foot dragging and internal disagreements, the contract will probably not be awarded until October.

At the Regional Transportation Council meeting in Arlington today, Dallas City Council Member Kara Mendelsohn told the gathering "We've been talking about this since December that you have a Dallas problem. We do not want an elevated train coming through our downtown. It's as simple as that."

North Central Texas Council of Governments Transportation Director Michael Morris said that "our plan forward is NOT to have an elevated through downtown. I'm moving forward since March 6th without a train through your downtown. We're more than happy to comply and move forward." Morris said several hundred thousand dollars has been spent since March 6 on new options and that everyone involved will be handed sophisticated maps and data on alternative options. 

A high-speed rail workshop for those involved was planned for July but Mendelsohn said her council is off in July. Morris offered to meet with officials any other time to update them on new potential routes. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said that time is of the essence to meet federal guidelines and suggested that a special meeting be established for a walk-through of documents. 

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker issued a statement that said "high-speed rail is an integral part of our transportation future and it will include Tarrant County. The regional long term success of DFW is connected to regional partnerships such as the high-speed rail project, as the region is poised to be the third largest metro region in the country by 2030, with the majority of the growth occurring west. " Mayor Parker indicated that "collectively, our success is dependent on world-class mobility solutions that connect not just DFW but the entire state of Texas." Parker said that an economic impact study is not a unilateral decision. It is a regional decision that stakeholders and elected officials must collaborate on to solve these complex issues. 

The high-speed rail line under consideration between Houston and Dallas and the link between Dallas and Fort Worth to bridge the gap for future rail lines down the I-35 travel corridor are still proceeding forward from other entities on a federally-mandated schedule despite the Dallas City Council putting on the brakes on an above ground rail line in the Central Business District.. 

Photo credit: Texas Central