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April 1, 2013

Texas-Oklahoma passenger rail options studied, discussed

DALLAS — Transportation officials are studying the feasibility of adding high speed passenger rail service to alleviate road congestion along an 850-mile corridor extending from Oklahoma City into south Texas.

The Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study is looking at how changes to passenger rail service would affect the Interstate 35 corridor that includes Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

“What we know is drivers spend way too many hours sitting in traffic on major roadways,” said Veronica Beyer, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation.

The traffic problem is projected to get much worse in the coming decades. By 2035, average speeds on the stretch of I-35 between the Dallas-Fort Worth area and San Antonio are expected to drop to 15 mph from 55 mph, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal Register entry on the study.

Transportation officials started having meetings in communities along the corridor last week to get the public’s input on how to improve rail options.

Bill Glavin, director of TxDOT’s rail division, said options up for discussion include where stops might be, what speeds the trains would travel, frequency of service and whether new lines would be built or existing ones improved. And, he adds, there’s the possibility they’ll propose no new action at the end of the study period.

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