Texas high-speed rail: public scoping meetings; possible routes

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Tokkyu40

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I live near some pretty convincing mountains and the speed limit is 70mph. This is nowhere near the limits imposed by the curves, which should handle 90-100 just fine.
Some of the old two lane sections of old highway 80 are a lot tighter.
Texas being Texas, they would have to add curves to design it for 80mph. The I-45 doesn't look too challenging on the map.
 

Tokkyu40

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Why is this charade being discussed? We all know it is not happening.
Because the people building it don't know it's not happening. They're making good progress and have a high probability of completing the project and having good success with it.

And since everyone here is interested in trains, we talk about these projects.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Why is this schrade being discussed? We all knowit is not happening.
If you think a thread is devoid of purpose then why on Earth are you even in here? I don't think this project is going to happen myself but I still don't see the point of telling other people to stop discussing it. And besides there's always a possibility that I could be wrong and they could be right. The only thing I know for certain is that you don't have anything worthwhile to bring to the discussion because you just got done proving it.
 
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cirdan

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Why is this charade being discussed? We all know it is not happening.
Because the people building it don't know it's not happening. They're making good progress and have a high probability of completing the project and having good success with it.And since everyone here is interested in trains, we talk about these projects.
In the early days I was pretty sceptical, suspecting this was a PR exercise by JR or their partners.

But it has been going for too long now and too much money has been invested in corridor studies for that to be the case.

I think it has a real and fair chance of being completed.
 

Caesar La Rock

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I seriously doubt this isn't going to happen, especially with all the planning going into this. All I can say is, if this project can happen in Florida, it can happen in Texas as well. ;)
 

jis

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I think this has a significant likelihood of happening provided the THSR folks are able to take a couple of pages out of the FECI/AAF playbook and apply it to Texas to ward of the NIMBYs and show clear path to cash positiveness, while not using too much taxpayer funding. Getting funding in the form of loans and tax free bonds seems to be OK though. The game the AAF played with NIMBYs is to use very detailed knowledge of the wants of individual communities and address them, and not worry about a relatively small remaining group of NIMBYs, other than to outflank them at each turn.

THSR needs to get not only Houston and DFW on board with their plan but also several en route large urban/suburban communities. They will face NIMBYs from rural areas, that should be taken as a given. That has to be counterbalanced by strong visible support both on the ground and in local county commissions and state house.. Look at how AAF finally divvied things up. Basically they have the large relatively urban counties firmly on their side - Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Brevard and Orange), and small rural counties against (Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River). Thia has made it relatively hard for the NIMBYs to get enough traction to do much damage, though they have and continue to try mightily. They also partitioned the source of construction funding to make sure that only FECI sourced money is used in the opposed counties and the huge pile of bond money is used only in counties that support their effort. They have even tacitly promised favored treatment to supporting counties both on the service front and priority in addition of new stations front. It has all been about economic impact that the supporting counties foresee.

THSR will have a bit of a challenge in the sticks unless they can line up at least a few counties outside of Houston and Dallas to be on their side. Not an insurmountable problem but adds to the difficulty if they can't.

On the real estate front, to understand FECI/AAF's game, you have to understand that AAF is a passenger railroad attached to a huge real-estate empire, and the whole project is really supported by the projected growth in the real estate empire as a result of building this project. I am not sure how THSR is structured financially since I have not seen much on it. but if they are depending purely on rail revenues, they may have a difficult path to hoe. They need to bring in the real estate angle and figure out how to plow back some of the real estate growth resulting from the project into operating budget of the railroad. The Japanese passenger operations do this in spades. Purely on rail operations they'd barely make it.

But for now I am optimistic. but we'll see.
 

cirdan

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I guess FEC has it easier as they alraedy have much of the real estate they are counting on developing. THSR will need to buy these first and the moment it becomes clear that that land is going to be a hub of profitable development, up goes the value and hence the price they will have to pay. So unless THSR has already been sneakily buying land ahead of their station and alignment announcements (especially at the Houston end) I don't see them making a big killing on the real estate.

FEC also has it easier in another respect in that they already have an operation railroad line. There's not very much you can do as a NIMBY to prevent somebody from running trains on their own railroad.

On the other hand, Miami has always had a fairly functional downtown with good land utilization wheres Houston has long been blighted by abandoned buildings and empty tracts of land and this has only really improved in the last couple of years as the light rail system made the downtown area attractive once again. So possibly land can still be bought at a bargain and then totally transformed.
 

jis

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All those points further highlight the reality that the FECI/AAF experience may not be transferable as is to the THSR situation. But there still are some core lessons that can transfer.

Interestingly, FECR is no longer a subsidiary of FECI. AAF is a subsidiary of FECI. Both FECI and FECR are separate subsidiaries of the Fortress Group.
 

Palmetto

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I just read that the FRA has nixed both possible routes into downtown Houston. They're not getting any closer to it that US290 and Loop 610, if I read it correctly. If so, why even bother? The advantage of the train is to take people to downtown.
 

cirdan

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I just read that the FRA has nixed both possible routes into downtown Houston. They're not getting any closer to it that US290 and Loop 610, if I read it correctly. If so, why even bother? The advantage of the train is to take people to downtown.
This would be very bad news indeed.
 

Caesar La Rock

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I just read that the FRA has nixed both possible routes into downtown Houston. They're not getting any closer to it that US290 and Loop 610, if I read it correctly. If so, why even bother? The advantage of the train is to take people to downtown.
This would be very bad news indeed.
The team is confident the project will still gain ridership even then.

http://transportationblog.dallasnews.com/2015/11/developers-say-bullet-train-will-work-even-if-it-doesnt-reach-downtown-houston.html/
 

Palmetto

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Does anyone know why the FRA will not allow going to downtown? The rails are there, so it's not a lack of infrastructure.
 
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cirdan

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Maybe the project will gain ridership even if it serves a peripheral car-centric site. But it won't have a significant effect on rebuilding Houston's downtown and it seems to me, this is what Houston is trying to do, for example with all the money that's gone into Metro Rail, plus all the various urbanist projects to make downtown attractive. Not having HSR go there would seem like a stab in the back of Houston, so maybe HSR is even hoping Texas will pony up the money for the downtown terminus and is using the out of town station as a negotiating piece.
 

Anderson

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Well, and I suspect it is also plausible that there will be a "suburban" station and a "downtown" station (think Route 128 and South Station)...but I do agree that they probably want the city to at least help out on that front. Ah, negotiating stances...
 

CHamilton

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How Important is "Downtown"?

In Citylab, Eric Jaffe gives us the supposedly bad news that the proposed Dallas-Houston High Speed Rail (HSR) line won't go to "downtown" Houston. Instead it will end at Northwest Mall, just outside the I-610 loop in the northwest of the city.

But most of the Houston transit-advocates I've talked with aren't sounding nearly as upset. That's because:
  • the proposed terminal is close to the centroid of Houston as a whole. It's also very close to Uptown-Galleria, the region's second downtown, and to Northwest Transit Center, the busiest transit hub in the western 2/3 of the city.
  • the terminal station area is massively redevelopable. You could easily build yet another downtown there, and if HSR is built, they probably will, and
  • the project will provide great impetus for light rail or Bus Rapid Transit linking the station to the original downtown. These projects have been sketched many times and could include either I-10 nonstop links or a refurbishment of Washington Street, a promising old streetcar street linking the two nodes.
  • in the US High Speed Rail, the cost of the last miles into an historic downtown can be a huge part of the cost and grief of the whole project. So if you want high-speed rail to happen at all, provoking this battle is not always a sensible part of Phase 1.
 

neroden

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OK, I get these arguments, but...

(a) Northwest currently has no rail link to downtown at all. If the planned Uptown light rail line is built, it'll still require taking *three* light rail lines to get downtown (Uptown/University/Red), and it'll be an indirect route.

(b) Couldn't they run elevated over I-10 or the UP line to get downtown?

© or even eastward in the I-610 median to meet the Red Line at Melbourne North Lindale station.

(d) At least consider extending the LRT up Washington Ave, Old Katy Road, and Post Oak Road to meet the HSR line.

None of these proposals are on anyone's official project lists
 

DSS&A

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Hi,

I agree that it is a small amount now, bit the main activity is design engineering, completing the environmental sign-off, finalize the alighment and project details and lining up investors to contribute funds after receiving the environmental project approval. This now brings Texas HSR to over $100 million of contributions.

A similar Chinese organization contributed $100 million to the Press west Las Vegas HSR which should be enough for similar activities. They already have their environmental approval for the Victorville to Las Vegas segment, but they now have to get an environment approval for the just announced Victorville to Palmdale HSR segment.
 
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