"Safe, accessible and efficient regional rail systems are an important component in the transportation networks of many areas," U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statment. "As proposed, these rail projects would increase travel options and promote economic growth in their regions of the country."
Texas Central, a private company, plans to construct a 240-mile high-speed rail route from Houston to Dallas. When completed, the multibillion-dollar route will provide riders a 90-minute trip between the two cities.
The complete draft environmental impact statement will be published Friday, Dec. 22, in the Federal Register—the daily newspaper of the federal government—according to the FRA, at which time the FRA will accept public comments on the report.
The environmental report does not grant Texas Central a permit to build the high-speed railway. The FRA will consider public input from the draft environmental impact statement and compile a final environmental impact statement. Then, the FRA will issue a record of decision to comply with the permitting process for the project.
Here are five things to know about the study's findings.
1. What did the study consider?
The environmental study reviewed the route's potential effects on the environment, private property and farmland, natural resources, water and wetlands, threatened and endangered species, and energy demands, according to a statement.
The environmental impact statement includes comments from the public, including landowners, community groups and elected officials collected across the past four years.
2. What is the preferred route?
The route outlined in the FRA's report primarily follows transmission lines in a utility corridor, according to a statement. The preferred route by the FRA passes through 10 counties: Dallas, Ellis, Navarro, Freestone, Limestone, Leon, Madison, Grimes, Waller and Harris. Of six route alignments, the FRA recommends Alternative A has the least impact on the environment.
3. Where are the passenger stations proposed?
The rail route includes plans for three passenger stations: Dallas, Houston and Grimes County. According to a statement, the Dallas station is proposed south of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in the Cedars area. The station in Grimes County is proposed near Hwy. 190 and Hwy. 30 with direct shuttle service to Texas A&M University.
Three locations are proposed for the Houston passenger station in the proximity of south of Hwy. 290, west of Loop 610 and north of I-10.
4. What are the environmental, economic impacts generally?
According to a statement, Texas Central's route will include viaduct structures—meaning bridges over existing roadway crossings—to eliminate safety risks and environmental impact.
Economically, the 240-mile route is expected to generate $36 million in activity across the next 25 years. More than 10,000 jobs are expected to be created during construction with an additional 1,000 jobs created when the route opens to passengers. According to a statement, Texas Central also expects to pay $2.5 billion in local taxes over 25 years.
5. Where can I view the environmental report?
The draft environmental impact statement will be published in the Federal Register on Friday, Dec. 22. According to the FRA, community members can submit public comments on the environmental report for 60 days after Dec. 22, ending Feb. 20. During this time, 10 public hearings will also be held in the counties through which the route passes.
View the draft environmental impact statement in three parts here.