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TexPIRG and Texas Rail Advocates Praise Obama Administration for Kick-Starting High Speed Rail in Texas
AUSTIN--That was the message that board members of the Texas Rail Advocates and TexPIRG Associate Elizabeth McClellan made clear today when they gathered at Dallas Union Station to release The Right Track, a new research report from TexPIRG.
“2009 was a sea change at TxDOT in recognizing the need for a Rail Division and adding it to the fold and hiring its first Rail Director, a railroader with lots of experience. This is a good first step. But it still leaves us trailing in the dust because those 30 other states have been planning and expanding their passenger rail network for years, some for decades,” said Peter LeCody, president of the Texas Rail Advocates.
“We need the support of the governor, the legislature and the cities involved in creating an intercity passenger rail network that Texans can be proud of. Just like other states have done and are doing.”
The new report analyzes the potential of high speed rail in nine different regions, including the South Central region, and presents eleven public-interest recommendations for how to spend high speed rail investments in the future. According to data cited in the report, the completion of a national high-speed rail network would reduce car travel by 29 million trips and air travel by nearly 500,000 flights annually.
Last month, the Obama administration announced that 31 states will receive a portion of $8 billion in funding to build and plan for high speed rail under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Texas will receive $4 million for upgrades that will provide final design and construction of signal timing improvements at grade crossings between Fort Worth and the Texas/Oklahoma border.
“This project might one day be part of a national network of high speed rail on par with the bullet trains of Europe and Asia, but it is going to take a long-term commitment from all levels of government to plan and fund the system,” said McClellan, TexPIRG Associate, “Without such a commitment, this recent momentum could be lost. We simply cannot afford a false start on high speed rail.”
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