Federal Railroad Administration outlines preferred Dallas-Houston route for Texas Central: 5 things to know about the high-speed rail’s environmental report released Friday


The Federal Railroad Administration signed a draft environmental impact statement for Texas Central on Friday, which outlines a preferred route for the high-speed railway from Dallas to Houston, according to a statement from Texas Central. The FRA’s release of the environmental report comes after a four-year study process on the environmental impact of the 240-mile route.

“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.

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  1. Paul Wilcox-Baker

    I’m looking forward to riding it! It seem unfortunate that the Dallas terminal isn’t Union Station for good local and long-distance transit connections.

    • Just have to look at who owns the land where Dallas station will be located. It’s a board member of TExas central , an investor in Texas Centra and who happens to own Mathews southwest construction company and you guess it that he has the rights to develope the land at the station.

      • Bob in Champions

        Considering this is a private venture, it’s not surprising. Having a board member & investor who, in his “day job” is a construction company owner, I’d be surprised if he WASN’T building the station. It shows that he’s willing to stake his own money on this project.

        Private help is occurring (mainly through right-of-way procurement), but the state and feds won’t be bailing out this project, if it doesn’t pan out. When buyouts happen, it’ll be Texas Central making those payments, not the Texas Enterprise Fund or TXDOT.

        I just wish they found a way to link it to Waco or Corsicana for a second stop, but at least it provides a third option for people going from Houston to Dallas and vice versa (or second option for people going to TAMU).

        If this pans out, a link to Austin and San Antonio would be nice. Imagine deciding to have a “fun date night” where you knock off early from work and have dinner on the Riverwalk and be home before the babysitter’s curfew? We already have the option of making a family trip to the Rodeo (for Dallasites) or the State Fair (for Houstonians) in the works without having to worry about parking, fighting traffic, or driving after having a couple of adult beverages.

  2. Why would anyone want to ride a train between Dallas & Houston. They say it will only be 90 minute trip. That is BS.. First one will have to get to a station in Dallas or Houston that’s going to add 20 to 30 minutes in both cities. The trip now up to 120 minutes. Once one gets to a station in Dallas or Houston station there will be a parking fee. After getting to the destination and disembarking the train one will need transportation(rental car) to get to the exact location in either city that will add another 20 to 30 mines to the trip now up to 150 minutes at least. Now add in all the time to park your car, waiting on the train, getting transportation(rental car) that should be an extra hour now the trip is up to 210 minutes. Now consider the cost to the rider a parking fee at station $10.00 a day the train ticket(round trip) about $100.00 or more a rental car $25.00. The total cost will be about $150.00 plus.
    Now I drive my own car it will take 210 minutes no waiting in any line except on the road I have transportation when I get there. Cost no parking fees at station, no ticket for train & no rental car. Total cost is 30 gallons of fuel at $2.25 = $68.00.
    Now why would any one take the train?

  3. People will take the train because driving requires their attention. On a train, they can sleep, have meetings, work on proposals, etc. Many of these people who do business between the 2 cities are currently flying back and forth. Taking the train may be less expensive, consume about the same amount of overall time and the stations will be closer to the cities allowing for a quick taxi or uber trip. Business travel will make up the bulk of the passengers. I understand what you are saying and if I am going to for a leisure trip with no work to be done and I am driving around the city to see sites, then driving my own car will make sense.

  4. No don’t support this train. The entire idea that this train would be paid for with private money is a total scam. There has never been one rail system anywhere built with total private money. It’s impossible. The cost overruns will be so huge there will be no option once it’s going to fleece taxpayers with increases in either taxes, or worse yet, more borrowing from the Chinese and other foreign sources . So bottom line I believe ultimately the rail system would be owned by foreigners. A country that soon will have to deal with $1 Trillion Dollar interest payments on existing debts should not be responsible by bailing out this mistake. But that’s what going to happen. It would be interesting to know what interest rate assumptions were made to borrow the money to build this, and what happens if those interest rates double or triple by the time the thing is completed.

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Anna Lotz
Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in the Tomball and Magnolia communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.
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