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Feds weigh in on I-35 bullet train study

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

The dream of high-speed rail rushing through Austin is one step closer to reality. On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Transportation announced that the Federal Rail Administration had at last rendered its judgment on the long-gestating Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study. Two summers ago, TxDOT released the draft version of its high-level environmental study of the three-segmented, 850-mile corridor stretching from Oklahoma City down to Brownsville and/or Laredo. After months of review, the FRA gave the green light to the idea of running high-speed trains at up to 220 miles per hour from Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio. Though this first phase of the study did not focus on precise routes, the general idea suggests the line would run parallel to Interstate 35 and could make a stop in far East Austin. In a press release, Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin III said, “The study provides a foundation upon which the private sector, local stakeholders and our federal partners can consider opportunities to work together to potentially advance this project.” The next step in the process is a project-level study to determine specific routes and services. According to the release, “At this point a private developer could step forward to determine future project possibilities.”

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