Texan Lone Star Rail District (LSRD) has launched the federal environmental process on the regional passenger rail project that will connect the Austin and San Antonio metro areas. Initiators have implemented a new module dedicated to the environmental impact statement (EIS) process. The module will provide the latest information and updates on the EIS process, the project status, maps and project materials, and public meetings.
The main reason for building a new commuter rail connection between these Texan cities is the fact that the traffic on Interstate 35 through the Austin-San Antonio corridor is bad and getting worse. It’s one of the most congested interstate segments in America and the biggest bottleneck on I-35 between Mexico and Canada. It’s also one of the deadliest stretches of highway in the country, with over 100 fatalities a year.
In December 2013 the cities of Austin and San Marcos were the first to sign local funding agreements with Lone Star Rail District. The agreements mark a significant milestone in bringing passenger rail to Central Texas.
Of the three options considered, two were quickly eliminated from further consideration. Option
2, which would place the commuter rail line outside the frontage road, faces severe right-of-way constrints and creates conflicts with crossing streets and driveway connections found throughout the corridor. Option 3, which would place the rail between the main lanes and frontage road, would require extremely long structures to grade separate at ramp crossings.
Option 3 also poses conflicts to bridge and retaining wall structures as well as to toll facilities
Rebuilding I-35 to accommodate all of the different travel demands it now handles would take decades and could consume Texas’ entire transportation budget. That’s why for many years, regional leaders and thinkers have been looking at alternatives. And one of the best alternatives is passenger rail.
The Union Pacific corridor that parallels I-35 is an important link for moving goods through the region, but as a freight rail line, it suffers from many of the same challenges as I-35. However, that same UP right-of-way is almost perfectly suited to passenger service that can bring people right to the region’s major destinations like downtown Austin and San Antonio, a long string of university campuses, tourist attractions, and major employers from Williamson County to Port San Antonio and beyond..
Texas voters also gave their approval to efforts to jump-start rail relocation and improvements, with the state and private railroads like UP working together for mutual benefit. Right now, Lone Star Rail and Union Pacific are working together with the State of Texas to study ways to meet the region’s future needs for both freight and passenger rail while improving mobility for all travelers in Central and South Texas.
Source: Lone Star Rail Project
Texan Lone Star Rail District
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