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    Mind the Gap

    Plan for Texas-sized rail system missing pieces

    When the economic stimulus bill was signed into law, $8 billion was set aside for high-speed rail. Although rail helps reduce carbon emissions, it also plays a role in urban planning. Professor Robert Lang at the Metropolitan Institute has noted previously that proposed high-speed rail plans closely conform to the megapolitan areas that he mapped out.

    The analogy is that high speed rail is the "subway" of future megacities. However, in Texas, the proposed map seems slightly askew. Logically, the Texas Triangle cities of San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth are interconnected, strangely Houston is left out.

    It is interesting to note also that the South Central plan connects North Texas to Oklahoma City. Professor Lang has long suggested that OK City could merge with The Metroplex to form a third center of gravity for a megapolitan area. To many Texans, that notion is about as crazy as Houston and New Orleans forming a mega city, which brings me to plan 2 for Texas.

    In the so-called Gulf Coast plan, Houston is the end/start point for a system that runs all the way to Atlanta. While this may make sense to somebody in Washington, the citizens of Houston consider themselves Texans before any other affiliation.

    The founders of Southwest Airlines realized this decades ago when they drew a "Golden Triangle" connecting Houston, Dallas,-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio on the back of napkin as they sketched out a business plan for their new airline.

    It remains to be seen if any of these plans will come to fruition, and even if they are attempted, high-speed rail could go the way of the Trans-Texas Corridor. .:.


    Jessie said...

    Did you notice this was last updated on Monday, February 23rd?

    I wonder how realistic this is?

    editor said...

    This plan has been in the works for some time, as the Federal Department of Transportation has had these maps on their site for years. For the most part, they were considered pie-in-the-sky because of the costs in building high-speed rail.

    Another issue is whether anyone wants to ride a train. In the Bosnywash Corridor--Boston through NY and Washington DC down into Virginia--rail travel is hugely popular. But many of the cities along that path are already well accustomed to mass transit.

    In Texas, you'd have to have a pretty good reason to ride the rails. That's why I find it so strange Houston would not connected into the system.

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