Friday, January 30, 2009

"I think you could take the template of the TTC and lay it over this plan and the issues would be very much the same."

High Speed Rail System Proposed, Again


by Sara Talbert
Copyright 2009

WACO- It's an old idea, re-vamped and ready for approval. However, some who were against a high speed rail system before say they'll fight it again. Fifteen years ago, the idea of a high speed rail was shot down but the plan was presented to legislators in Austin again Wednesday, much to the surprise of those who were against it many years ago.

Seventy percent of the people who live in Texas would have access to this bullet train, going from Dallas, Fort Worth, through Waco and Austin to San Antonio and it would t-bone in Temple to an east and west line that goes from Fort Hood to Houston.

If constructed, it would be the first of it's kind in the United States. Bill Jones, the Mayor of Temple, is on the executive committee for the non-profit high speed rail project, nicknamed the Texas T-bone. He says something has to be done soon as Texas' population continues to grow.

"We can't build enough highways. We don't want that many cars on the road," said Jones.

At 200 miles per hour, a trip from Dallas to Waco would only be 30 minutes. Not everyone shares Jones enthusiasm for the multi-billion dollar proposal. Ralph Synder is a Bell County landowner with questions and fears.

"Apparently, these high speed rails put out a lot of noise; scream, scream like banshees," said Synder.

Mayor Jones says that's not true.

"They're very quiet. It's an electric train," said Jones.

Gene Hall, with the Texas Farm Bureau says this plan would have a drastic effect on landowners.

"All of the projects seem to be through areas that include some of the best and richest farmland in the state of Texas," said Hall.

The Farm Bureau was against the Trans-Texas Corridor because of it's expected use of private land.

"I think you could take the template of the TTC and lay it over this plan and the issues would be very much the same," said Hall.

Jones admits many of the studies done on the TTC can also be used on the high speed rail system.

"I think the most critical thing in all of this whether, you're talking about the TTC or a high speed rail, is we have to fix eminent domain. The eminent domain in this state are frankly terrible," said Hall.

Jones says if the plan gets the go-ahead, which will likely take years, the hope is to have the high speed rail system in place and working by the year 2020.

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