Houston-Dallas High-Speed Rail + Tearing Down I-345 = A Big Win

Big news in Texas this week as word came down that the U.S. Department of Transportation will help fund a feasibility study for a high-speed rail connection between Dallas and Houston.

Patrick Kennedy at Walkable Dallas Fort Worth says the region is perfectly suited for intercity rail. The proposed HSR link would enable people to travel between the two cities in about 90 minutes — more than competitive with air travel, especially when you eliminate the security hassles. And he has an idea to make it work even better. He starts by delving into a study [PDF] from the University of Texas that advocated for siting the rail along the region’s highway corridors:

The primary purpose of the study was to examine the suitability of existing highway corridors for the geometries and right-of-way availability to bring HSR along side (or even in some cases over the top of) the highway corridor. This makes a lot of sense. For one, TxDOT wants to avoid the mess that the Trans-Texas Corridor caused in terms of right-of-way acquisition (as well as its myriad of other issues). Also, as I’ve said a million times rail creates disconnections except at its station areas or termini. It creates edges and border vacuums just like a highway, so might as well pair the edge-makers up together (like highways and floodplains — see: downtown Denver).

There are also recommended criteria for selecting station areas. One stipulation was approximately 20 acres for a downtown station. I have just the place:

Patrick Kennedy says a highway teardown near downtown Dallas could provide the perfect site for a train station. Image: ##http://www.carfreeinbigd.com/2014/01/hsipr-or-hsr-for-short.html## Walkable Dallas Fort Worth##

Patrick Kennedy says removing Interstate 345 near downtown Dallas could provide the perfect site for a train station. Image: Walkable Dallas Fort Worth

Since there’s no need for [Interstate] 345 anymore. Wink wink. Nudge nudge. Amirite?

Actually this location does solve a number of problems (assuming 345 goes bye bye). It utilizes the examined 45 right-of-way to steer the trains into downtown, there is redevelopable area nearby, it avoids the border vacuum problem by not bringing the rail deeper into downtown, in all likelihood the D2 link will be somewhere near this vicinity, linking HSR to the broader train network.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Better Institutions contrasts the housing affordability challenges in places like Seattle and DC with Detroit’s housing vacancy problem. The Naked City takes a critical look at a new claim that Charlotte is “the world’s least-dense city.” And Free Public Transit says it’s a sign of the times: Saudi Arabia is getting serious about public transport.