NCTCOG held public meetings on January 27 and 28 to receive public input and questions about the proposed transportation plans.
The study is based on the projections that the Dallas-Fort Worth region will grow to over 11 million people by 2045 and will require other forms of transportation besides roads and passenger rail.
“A high-speed option would also improve efficiency, with travel times between Dallas and Fort Worth and beyond reduced significantly,” the NCTCOG flyer states. The goal for the transportation mode is 20 minute travel time between the downtown areas of the two cities.
This is despite the decrease in ridership on local passenger rail systems and across the country and the continued struggles of Texas Central to build its project.
When asked about the demand and ridership estimates for the system, NCTCOG officials said that they don’t currently have those numbers, but they expect to get more specific ridership estimates in the next phase of the study.
The study is considering three major forms of high-speed transportation: high-speed rail, magnetic levitation (MAGLEV) systems, and hyperloop. It is also studying several route alignments along the Interstate 30 and State Highway 180 corridors.
The study has three phases for determining the preferred mode of transportation and route it will take. Phase 2 is expected to be completed at the end of March.
Phase 3 will be a more detailed evaluation with conceptual design, cost estimates, environmental impacts, and community impacts all taken into consideration, according to Chris Masters, a consultant working on the study. It is expected to be complete in the middle of 2023.
Previous similar studies of high-speed transportation options between Dallas and Fort Worth have been conducted. In a 2017 study conducted by Urban Engineers for the Federal Railroad Administration, the I-30 route was dropped from consideration due to “greatest engineering challenges, the highest design and construction complexity and construction risks, and the highest capital cost.”
When the public asked about funding for the project, Kevin Feldt, program manager with the transportation planning division of NCTCOG, said, “At this point, we don’t know. When we reach the federal decision at the end of this process in the middle of 2023, we will have identified a funding strategy and a government implementation strategy. The project would be ready for a private group to come in and possibly oversee and move forward. There are a lot of options available to us: a pure public option, a private sector option, or a combination of the two.”
One citizen expressed concern that a new rail system would just be a redundancy of the already-existing Trinity Railway Express, which runs between Dallas and Fort Worth, but Feldt pointed out that the new system would provide a complimentary service with faster travel times because there would be fewer stops.
Recordings of the presentation can be found on the NCTCOG website and public comments can also be submitted there until February 22.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.