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Our Position
For our detailed position paper, click here.  For an annotated map illustrating our proposal, click here.
We strongly oppose routing the high-speed rail (HSR) through Houston neighborhoods.  Why?  Residential neighborhoods would be devastated by introduction of HSR infrastructure.  At its typical 40- to 50-foot height, this infrastructure would be visible from blocks away, bisecting the neighborhoods, blighting their character and charm, and decimating property values.  Because the available right-of-way is narrower in many places than the 100 feet Texas Central Partners (TCP, formerly known as Texas Central Railway (TCR)) says it would require, it is likely that condemnation of private property would be necessary.  We believe the damage to neighborhoods and their residents would be unjustifiable, especially for a private, for-profit rail service that will not serve the neighborhoods it passes through and whose anticipated high fares (comparable to air travel, according to TCR mean its ridership will include only a tiny sliver of the public, largely business travelers.
The HSR terminus at 290/610 makes a great deal of sense.  Houston’s center of gravity, with respect to both population and jobs, lies well to the west of downtown.  It was no accident that TCP concluded that a location outside downtown provided the best mix of costs and benefits.  It is better for the public, too; a downtown location would force those wishing to ride to Dallas to travel downtown, worsening traffic and parking problems.
There is undoubtedly a need to connect downtown with the HSR station.  It would be best to accomplish this using a mode of transit that can also serve the neighborhoods it passes through, such as light rail or bus rapid transit.
Mayor Turner has indicated repeatedly that new approaches to transit, not just building more roads, will be a primary focus of his administration.  There is now an opportunity to plan the growth of Houston’s transit network for the next 20, 30 or 40 years.  The introduction of high-speed rail is an important event, and we should think carefully about how best to integrate it with other modes of transportation.
Another factor is that Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is in the advanced stages of planning a reorientation of I-45 that will involve massive new roadways and transform vehicular traffic flow through the downtown area.  Wouldn’t it be wise to bring them into the conversation as well, in order to ensure that their work doesn’t impede access for mass transit traveling west of downtown?
There are many possibilities.  We do not pretend to have all the answers.  But, we think that there is an important conversation to be had, and neighborhoods should have a seat at the table.  We believe that working together is the right way to achieve the best outcome.




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