Updated December 12, 2018 - TRA Newswire - You, as a Texan, have a rare opportunity to let your voice be heard in the Texas Department of Transportation Rail Division's 2019 Texas Rail Plan. This is the first time that TxDOT has asked for extensive public input into a passenger and freight rail plan. "We are asking interested citizens to saturate TxDOT with responses, so in addition to your remarks please spread the word to others who want to improve passenger and freight rail service in Texas", according to Texas Rail Advocates board member John Radovich. Comments can be made for a limited time through this website: 2019TRP.com
You can also email comments to RRD_RailPlan@txdot.gov
Or you can submit written comments to Texas Rail Plan, TxDOT Rail Division, Atn: Mark Werner, 125 W. 11th Street, Austin Texas 78701.
According to TxDOT, the agency is updating its Texas Rail Plan to reflect the latest rail project priorities and fulfill eligibility requirements for federal funding of rail projects. Activities include the development of policy concepts, programs and agency-specific strategies to improve the efficiency of freight movement and maintain on-time passenger service.
"While the Texas rail system is a vital component of our thriving economy for moving goods, nothing has been accomplished in creating an intercity passenger rail system by our state legislature. There are so many other states thinking ahead on moving people by rail but Texas has not been one of them," according to Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody. "Look at the stats. 99% of the funding for TxDOT goes directly to highways and all other modes of transportation get the crumbs. We need our elected leaders to think outside of the box. With a thousand new residents moving to Texas every day we can't start to pour enough asphalt and concrete to move people and goods around. If you don't make your voice heard now you have lost a great opportunity."
The current rail plan, is available on the Rail Division webpage.
Rail Passengers Association Division Leader Bruce Ashton of San Antonio spoke at a public meeting for the TxDOT State Rail Plan in Austin on December 11th. Following the meeting Ashton said "unless Texans take the time to submit their comments now we are in fact admitting we accept our current level of passenger train service with no improvements for the foreseeable future." In his remarks to TxDOT, Ashton spoke about expansion of Amtrak trains that serve Texas and Oklahoma and for TxDOT to solve a freight and passenger rail choke point across the Neches River in Beaumont.
Texas Rail Advocates has created a list of potential freight and passenger rail projects that should be considered in the 2019 Texas Rail Plan.
Support the Texas Central high speed passenger rail service between North Texas and Houston - the private companyshould break ground in 2019 Build a high speed passenger rail service along the I-35 corridor (tell TxDOT to push forward on phase II of the Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Initiative) Frequent corridor train service between Houston-Austin-San Antonio and between San Antonio and Austin Expand Amtrak service from the DFW area to Meridian, MS for a direct connection to the East Coast with the Crescent Expand tri-weekly to daily service on the Sunset Limited that runs through Texas from Los Angeles to New Orleans Add a second and third frequency on the Heartland Flyer between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City Improved regional commuter rail service for Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston Create public-private partnerships for more double tracking to allow for faster movement of goods and people Identify the Top 10 worst at-grade rail crossings in the state and find ways to eliminate accidents at those locations Create dedicated state funding for passenger and freight rail development Create a 25% tax credit for short line railroads so they can strengthen infrastructure to serve local business and industry Eliminate the rail bottleneck at the Neches River Bridge in Beaumont Expand Amtrak Thruway bus service to more cities that could connect to the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited Trailblazer signs to identify the location of passenger rail stations just like TxDOT has airport signs at highway exits
The Rail Division of TxDOT was established in December 2009 after Texas Rail Advocates presented a compelling case to the Texas Transportation Commission at a Dallas meeting why a Rail Division was sorely needed. The Rail Division addresses and hears comments on Rail Highway, Rail Safety, Freight Rail, Passenger Rail and High-Speed Rail.