Even in the face of uncertainty and some fierce opposition, the bold plan for a high-speed rail line connecting Texas’ two largest metros marches forward. In fact, as Dug Begley of the Houston Chronicle reports, yesterday’s news on the project represents a rather significant leap forward…
Once a Houston destination for shopping, movies and visits with Santa, the site of Northwest Mall is poised for revival as a bullet train terminal, with local officials and train backers seeing dollar signs from the sales tax growth potential.
Texas Central Partners and Houston-area elected officials on Monday announced that the company, which is seeking federal approval for a 240-mile high-speed train line, has chosen the mall’s 45-acre tract near Loop 610 and U.S. 290 as its preferred site for the southern terminal.
Mayor Sylvester Turner called the announcement further proof of a dramatic change in how — and where — people will travel in the Houston region.
“We are moving to a new phase in this city,” Turner said at a Monday ceremony announcing the site selection and releasing renderings of the proposed station.
The station would alter mobility for miles around it, as Houston — with some yet-to-be-determined help from Texas Central — aims to connect the location to downtown, both Houston-area airports and other major job and entertainment centers.
Here’s a clip of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Press Conference announcing the preferred site…
The announcements come on the heels of a whirlwind round of contentious public hearings by the Federal Railroad Administration, where many residents shared concerns, complaints and a few praises about the project. Even with these large steps forward, the high speed rail line still faces major hurdles.
But if completed, this project could be the catalyst for what Mayor Turner calls a “Transportation Reformation”, especially for the Houston region. Though still a ways from reality, plans for local light rail projects which would connect downtown, the Galleria and to Houston’s airports have been accelerated. These associated projects could prove a major leap for Houston’s many complex transportation needs. Of course, funding them would require some serious buy-in from Houston voters, so it remains to be seen.
That’s the latest news. Off the Kuff has more excellent coverage.
(from the Mayor’s announcement, a rendering of the proposed station at the Northwest mall site)
(GPS view of the proposed station location)