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Highway 290 Rail Plan In Reach

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U.S. 290 rail plan remains in reach

TxDOT says commuter line on radar screen, but not imminent


Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

While the Texas Department of Transportation's 2005 statewide rail plan doesn't outline specific details for a commuter rail through the U.S. 290 corridor, it does cite the corridor as a possible future project.

Mike Morgan recently presented members of the Cy-Fair Houston's Chamber of Commerce 290 Passenger Rail Coalition with an update and analysis of the TxDOT rail plan.

He also reassured the group that the state agency knows about its desire to use the Union Pacific Railroad tracks along U.S. 290 to run a passenger commuter rail linking suburbs and cities from the Greater Houston area to College Station.

"It's on TxDOT's radar screen. The Rail Plan does mention them and talks about several other corridors in the area," said Morgan, a freight and passenger rail researcher for the Texas Transportation Institute for the Texas A&M University system.

"The best thing they can do is to continue what they are doing."

The statewide plan allocates nearly $12.4 billion for highway, rail and public transportation and aviation improvements across Texas during the next four years, according to a TxDOT press release on the plan.

Projects detailed in the plan include a commuter rail through Austin's metro area, which could be ready by 2008, and an Austin to San Antonio commuter rail line, which could be ready for service by 2009.

Chamber members hope to use the information to help them proceed with their quest to get the commuter rail along the 290 corridor.

"The whole idea is to find out what other places have done," said Bill Bowden, co-chairman of the 290 Coalition.

Rakesh Tripathi, assistant director of transportation planning in TxDOT's Houston district, echoed Morgan's advice when chamber members asked whether there was anything they could do, such as raising money for additional studies, to get the 290 corridor moved up on the list of to-do projects.

"What you need to do ... is to be proactive in providing information," Tripathi said.

"I don't think you need to raise even a dime. U.S. 290 is up the list."

Bowden said one of the things he learned from Morgan's presentation was that some of the projects detailed in the 2005 Rail Plan were the result of proposals and planning that date back several decades.

"Here we are just starting to advocate for it," Bowden said. "We've got to figure out how to use the process properly. We need to know and study all of the methods to know what they did, so we can get this funded."

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  • 1 year later...
  • The title was changed to Highway 290 Rail Plan In Reach

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