North Texas transportation officials announced this week that they are moving forward with a plan to develop high-speed transportation alongside Interstate 30 from Fort Worth to Dallas.
They said this could be in the form of either high-speed rail or hyperloop.
High-speed rail has a top speed of 250 mph while hyperloop has a top speed of 650 mph. High-speed rail operates on fixed schedules in Asia and Europe while hyperloop is on demand and still a prototype.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments began studying bringing high-speed transportation to the region in 2020, holding more than 90 meetings and narrowing the routes from 43 to one and technologies from five to two.
The organization is now asking for public feedback before starting the second phase of its study, which will last another two years and look at the environmental impacts, as well as draw up engineering, financial and project management plans.
So far, reaction has been positive.
“Obviously, we’re a hospitality city, and any additional transportation enhances and accommodates our brand,” said William D. Tate, mayor of Grapevine.
Grapevine residents voted for a sales tax increase years ago, Tate said, so it could have a stop on the Trinity Railway Express, a commuter rail train between Fort Worth and Dallas provided by DART and Trinity Metro. He thinks they would be supportive of high-speed transportation as well.
Jeff Davis, chair of Trinity Metro board of directors, said high-speed transportation between the two cities would be transformational. He didn’t think it and the Trinity Railway Express would compete for riders.
“We do get this question quite a lot: how it will affect TRE ridership,” Brendon Wheeler, a senior transportation planner at the council of governments, said at a Wednesday virtual public meeting. “From our initial look, we’re really in two different markets here. The TRE is really commuter. I believe it has 10 stations along its alignment, and it takes almost an hour to get from downtown Fort Worth and Fort Worth Central Station over to Union Station in Dallas. … We are looking at a maximum of 20 minutes or so.”
I-30 was chosen in part because the Texas Department of Transportation plans to renovate the stretch between downtown Fort Worth and Cooper Street in Arlington anyway, said Chris Masters, the associate vice president of HNTB, a civil engineering firm assisting the council of governments on this project. He said in the sections of I-30 that TxDOT already has improved, the middle lane could be replaced by high-speed transportation, or it could be on the periphery of the highway.
In addition to Grapevine possibly getting a high-speed rail stop, Arlington could, too, if it puts money toward public transportation.
But Arlington residents have repeatedly voted down mass transit options. They did so in 1980, 1995 and 2002, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Today, the city has autonomous vehicles operating downtown and a trolley in its entertainment district, but only a ride-hailing service operates citywide, according to its website.
A council of governments’ study from 2017 identified four potential high-speed rail stops in Arlington. The study indicates that at the time, city officials preferred a location about one-half mile walking distance to Texas Rangers’ stadium and approximately one mile to AT&T stadium. It is bordered by AT&T Way on the West, Ballpark Way on the East, East Copeland Road on the North and Mark Holtz Lake on the South.
“We have had good discussions with the City of Arlington on their desire to continue to expand their public transportation commitment. Arlington fully understands a high-speed transportation hub or station in Arlington is contingent on the expansion of their public transportation commitment,” said Brian Wilson, communications supervisor for the council of governments.
The Report could not immediately reach Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams for comment Thursday.
Michael Morris, director of transportation at the council of governments, said he doesn’t know how much bringing high-speed transportation to North Texas will cost or who will pay for it. But he said that’s on purpose.
“We have held off investigating funding to not be influenced by that and to independently move ahead on the benefits of the transportation project,” he said, also at the virtual public meeting.
By 2045, the population of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is expected to increase from 7.5 million to 11.2 million, and officials say there’s only so much land to expand highways.
Morris is optimistic high-speed transportation will be funded here partly because President Joseph R. Biden rode an Amtrak every day when he was a senator.
Come see the historic @HyperloopOne vehicle XP-1 and the technology behind an emerging mode of transportation that could zip passengers from #ATTStadium to points throughout Texas in minutes.— AT&T Stadium (@ATTStadium) August 8, 2019
Check it out for yourself this week → https://t.co/3lfQNMSuT2 pic.twitter.com/HVKTgskOIb
Private companies have also expressed interest in the project. The council of governments and Texas Central Partners, which is developing high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston, are sharing information to ensure that whatever technology is chosen between Fort Worth and Dallas will allow passengers to go on to Houston seamlessly, he said.
“I don’t think we’d be spending all the time and effort if we didn’t think there was a path forward,” he said.
To learn more and make a comment on this first phase of the study, go to www.nctcog.org/dfw-hstcs. Comments will be accepted until June 18.