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Texas High-Speed Rail, 2024

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A trip from North Texas to San Antonio requires buying pricey airline tickets or spending five hours in your car along congested Interstate 35. But that could change in the next decade. A feasibility study of high-speed rail shows that travel between certain city pairs using Texas Department of Transportation rights of way could be made in fewer than two hours. Civil engineering Associate Professor Stephen Mattingly evaluated routes between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio, San Antonio and Houston, and Houston and Waco. He found that the routes on Interstates 20, 35, and 45 and state Highway 6 could accommodate rail within TxDOT rights of way. “Using existing right of way not only helps bring down the cost of the project, but it shortens the time in which it can realistically be built,” he says. The TxDOT-funded study found that high-speed, steel-wheel technology would be the least expensive but would require significant braking at curves. With magnetic levitation, or maglev, technology, trains could operate at maximum speed for most of the route. Both versions could travel at 186 mph. While the study didn’t pinpoint exact costs, it did outline possible funding mechanisms, including federal involvement and public/private partnerships. “There’s a strong chance that we could see this within 10 years, but there’s no guarantee,” Dr. Mattingly says. “I wouldn’t want to see any public money committed to an endeavor like this until we know it really is going to happen.”

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