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Texas Scores $5 million for High-Speed Rail Study

Map of possible Oklahoma City to South Texas High-Speed Rail Corridor
Images courtesy Texas Department of Transportation
The federal government awarded Texas a $5.6 million grant to study a high-speed rail system that would flow through this corridor. Full map below.

We are still years, perhaps even decades away from being able to hop on a high-speed train and travel to Dallas in less time than it takes to read the A Section of the New York Times.

But today, the Texas Department of Transportation says we are one baby-step closer to that possibility because of a chunk of cash the state was awarded in the latest round of US Department of Transportation high-speed rail grants.  

"Bringing high speed rail to Texas is going to be a long process," TxDOT spokesperson Karen Amacker told KUT News. "But receiving this grant award today is certainly the first step forward in that process."

The $5.6 million grant will go toward funding a study estimated to cost $14 million. TxDOT will also kick in some money, and hopes to get the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on board.

"We do have to nail down these other sources of funding to be able to fully complete all of the studies we're hoping to undertake," Amacker said.

Those studies would examine where to draw the route to get the most riders and have the greatest economic impact, along with environmental impact surveys.

If talk of high-speed rail in Texas seems like a discussion that's been going on forever, that's because it has. Texas Watchdog points out how back in the early-90s, reporters were fantasizing about a 90 minute train ride from Dallas to Houston.

In 1990, Texas was very close to becoming the first state in the country to offer bullet train service. Today, Texas is starting from scratch, developing a high-speed rail plan all over again. So unprepared was it during the application process that Texas received a little less than $12 million in stimulus grants. California, with its plan to link Los Angeles to San Francisco, received $2.5 billion; Florida, with a Miami, Tampa and Orlando plan, got $1.25 billion; and Wisconsin, with just one statistical population area with more than a million people, got more than $810 million.

You can get a better picture of TxDOT's vision for high-speed rail with a look at these planning documents, including a map of the Oklahoma City to South Texas Corridor.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.