A Bullet Train for the I35 Corridor?

It’s possible the shiny new “Red Line” from Leander to downtown Austin may get a new neighbor in the form of a mass transit rail system running parallel to Interstate 35. The newly proposed project has gathered 14 million in funding mainly from the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation to conduct a 2 year study into the feasibility of the project.

Traffic congestion is becoming more of a problem in most metro areas and nowhere in Texas is it more of a problem than in the Cedar Park and Austin areas. The proposed line would run from San Antonio to Oklahoma City while cutting through Austin, the DFW Metroplex, and many smaller cities in between. It would loosely follow the I35 corridor and possibly use some of Amtraks’ existing lines.

Many Texans who’ve never experienced mass rail transit have expressed apprehension about the prospect of riding the rail to work. Those of us fortunate enough to visit metro areas that use it have developed a much better understanding of the benefits. I’ve personally had brief encounters with rail transit in San Diego and Chicago and somewhat extensive rail commutes in the DC area. The speed and economy by which you can get from Virginia to downtown DC is remarkable to say the least.

There is just no more room for traffic in DC. It’s bumper to bumper downtown most of the time and absolutely no parking places. I can see a time in the near future when Austin will began facing some of these same problems. So we’re taking 2 years just to study how to start. Would anyone care to guess how long a project like this would take to come to fruition? 10 years? 20 years? More? Look how long the 183 expansion has been going on.

 


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