Commission for High-Speed Rail in Dallas/Fort Worth
Plans for high-speed rail service between Fort Worth and Dallas are accelerating, with private sector proposals sought and a regional entity to advance the proposal in its formative stages.
“What we envision at this point is having this done by a local government corporation,” said Bill Meadows, chairman of the Commission for High-Speed Rail in Dallas/Fort Worth, which gathers and shares data with statewide transportation partners and community leaders.
Speaking at the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition’s May 4 regular monthly meeting, Meadows assured area transportation planners and elected officials that the proposal is gaining traction. It would connect to a Dallas-Houston high-speed rail line and have stations in Fort Worth, Dallas and Arlington.
Meadows acknowledged that the issue has vanished from headlines in recent months but he said that the project’s proponents have not forgotten; they have held meetings to pursue the issue. One of those meetings brought Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price to Washington, D.C., in late 2015 for a chat with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
“It was a lengthy meeting focused on the DFW high-speed rail project. There was a tremendous amount of interest,” Meadows said.
Despite Foxx’s interest in the project, Meadows emphasized its local focus. And unlike the Dallas-Houston plan, which would be privately funded, the Fort Worth-Dallas system would follow a public-private framework, Meadows said.
“It is a local effort because, locally and regionally, we all recognize the significance of this project for meeting the future transportation needs of the citizens of this area,” he said.
Gov. Greg Abbott also applauds the plan, Meadows said, referring to support shown at a mid-December meeting with Price, Abbott and other officials.
“The takeaway was that Abbott understood the project and understood an important aspect of it: that this is a locally, regionally driven initiative. This is not a state initiative,” Meadows said.
Estimated construction costs have not been confirmed. But a request for proposals was issued in March seeking private-sector designs from companies interesting in designing and building the rail line.
“We fully expect there will be several different proposals received specifically to the Dallas-Fort Worth corridor,” Meadows said.
Meanwhile, Fort Worth and Dallas city officials plan to create a local government corporation by this fall to push the project through.
“We hope to have that local government group created by fall 2016 so we’ll [have] … a local or regional entity that will have the legal wherewithal to advance the project in a private-public partnership,” Meadows said.
Meadows’ group is hammering out a memorandum of understanding with Central Texas Partners, the company behind the Dallas-Houston plan, to outline how the plan would be overseen.
After project proposals are reviewed, a preferred route is expected to be selected in late 2016 after a public hearing.
“Hopefully in the later part of 2017, our record of decision [will be confirmed], allowing us to proceed with construction,” Meadows said.