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Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Houston and Texas Central Sign Agreement on High Speed Rail
by Garrett Bryce w/Photos courtesy HTV
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner today signed an agreement with Texas Central for the development of a proposed high speed rail system between Houston and Dallas.

The high speed line is planned to move along U.S. Highway 290, from a passenger station site in the general area south of 290, west of Loop 610 and north of Interstate Highway 10. News Release

Turner opened the signing ceremony by noting the rail as a “paradigm shift” in Houston, which has held the motto “The city where 17 railroads meet the sea.”

“In my state of mobility speech not too long ago, I said Houston needs a paradigm shift for transportation, one where vehicles on the streets and highways still play an important roll, but are complemented by so many ways to take people around the city swiftly and safely,” Turner said. “And today we are shifting in a major way. Shifting into a gear with a look into our mobility future.” Listen (4:57)

Turner said the agreement with Texas Central, the developers of the high speed train, was a starting point to begin “ironing out” definitive agreements for the rail, which is being privately funded. He said further agreements will be brought to committees and to city council for approval.

Turner also described the project as a “catalyst for economic development in Houston, and added tax revenue for the City of Houston.”

Definitive agreements will include right-of-way issues, utility relocation plans along Hempstead Road, intermodal connectivity and transportation planning for the area around the station, as well as job creation agreements.

Tim Keith, President of Texas Central, thanked Turner for his support, both in the Texas Legislature and in Houston.

“Our announcement today marks the significant next step, the next step, there's many more steps to follow as the mayor talked about, but it's a beginning,” Keith said. Listen (4:03)

He noted that the project will generate billions of dollars in economic impact and create several jobs, including construction jobs followed by permanent jobs, a third of which Keith said are expected to be in Houston. Keith spoke on the congestion and accidents on Texas roadways in the area, and said the rail would provide a safe option for travel.

“We aim to move Texans safely, and save lives,” Keith said.

Bob Harvey, President & CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership also spoke, noting Houston's status as a diverse, welcoming, inclusive and innovative city, with a variety of businesses.

“We're the energy capital of the world, but we're also America's headquarters city, with 20 Fortune 500 firms and the U.S. headquarters of many international firms,” Harvey said. Listen (3:00)

He said that improving connectivity was “absolutely critical” to the city's long term success.

“What better way to link innovation and connectivity than this bullet train project, the first of its kind in the U.S.,” Harvey said.

He praised Texas Central's commitment to placing jobs in the city.

Drayton McLane, Jr., a member of the Texas Central Board of Directors, noted that Houston is “based on big ideas.”

“In the early 1900s, a few leaders here wanted to build a ship channel, no need for a ship channel, they built one,” McLane said. “You now have the second largest port in the United States and one of the largest in the world and it is a big part of Houston.” Listen (3:32)


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