It’s been percolating for years and still has a long ways to go, but development of the Texas bullet train connecting Houston and Dallas just rolled past a significant milestone.
On Thursday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner inked an agreement with Texas Central, the company plotting the privately-funded 240-mile line, which would transport passengers between the two cities in about 90 minutes. This got a lot of press in Houston. The memorandum of understanding signals the city’s support for the project, although any major agreements must still get full approval from city council members. The Dallas City Council approved a similar memo regarding the high-speed train last year.
Texas Central hopes to start turning dirt in late 2018, and two contractors signed on this week to help design and build the project, which would cost up to $15 billion and will take about four to five years to finish. The bullet train has been generally welcomed in Dallas, where speed, size, and glitz are part of our civic creed. It’s met with slightly more opposition in Houston, although a promise that the line will avoid many residential neighborhoods and end about 10 miles outside of downtown has put much of that to rest. (Plans call for the Dallas stop to be placed closer to the city center, in the Cedars.) Texas Central still has some reckoning to do with the rural landowners in between, unimpressed as they are by the prospect of a bullet train roaring through their property. There are regulatory hurdles that remain to be cleared, and of course, money that needs to be raised.
Still, it looks more and more like this — with all the jobs and development and tax revenue Texas Central is advertising, not to mention the futuristic cool — is happening, sooner rather than later. Choo choo.