Biden Official Supports Texas High-Speed Rail

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg | Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said on Sunday that Biden administration officials support a proposed high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston.

“I think there is enormous potential in this vision, and I’ll tell you why,” Buttigieg said during an NBC 5 DFW interview on April 7.

“[It’s] just the way that the population is laid out in this part of Texas, where you have two major population centers that are a long drive or a very short flight away from each other. That is an excellent candidate for high-speed rail.”

The Dallas Express reported in March that Dallas City Council members also support the Amtrak rail connecting Houston and Dallas, but they oppose the alignment between Dallas and Fort Worth.

As currently proposed, the Dallas-to-Fort Worth connection on the I-30 corridor would create an elevated rail line through downtown Dallas and include a seven-story station built near the new Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Council Member Chad West of District 1 said during a council meeting on March 2 that he likes the high-speed rail concept but opposes the alignment’s design in the current proposal because it “cuts off part of downtown.”

But Paul Ridley of District 14 explained he is “highly skeptical of [the Dallas-Fort Worth connection’s] practicality and, indeed, [the] basic need for it” overall, remarking that the concept lacks “common sense.”

Citing a Federal Railroad Administration study, Ridley said the alignment “would cost $12 billion and would save only 30 seconds as compared to the Trinity Railroad Express if the Railroad Express hardware was enhanced to 125 mile-an-hour speed.”

“That, to me, does not justify the I-30 corridor,” he commented. “Does this make sense to anybody that we would spend this much money to achieve so little gain…?”

Michael Morris, the director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said at the meeting that the “benefit of connecting Fort Worth to Dallas is you would be able to have more seamless connections from Houston to Dallas by going to Arlington or going to Fort Worth.”

“The topic of the prospect of high-speed rail is absolutely exciting,” summarized Jesse Moreno of District 2. “We should all want to be good partners here in the City of Dallas. We want to be partners to our region, but as Dallas’ elected leaders, we must look out for what’s in the best interest of the City of Dallas. We must put Dallas first.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced in December that more than $8 billion in grant funding has been awarded for 10 passenger rail projects across the country, including Amtrak’s Dallas-to-Houston alignment.

“We believe in this,” Buttigieg told NBC 5. “Obviously, it has to become a more specific design and vision. But everything I’ve seen makes me very excited about this.”

Amtrak moves passengers among 500 destinations in more than 40 states, the District of Columbia and Canada at speeds up to 150 mph.

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