One possibility ... is that stakeholders could ultimately determine there is no workable deal, that the proposed project is a “no go.”
Ed. Note: Here is a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.
Despite Union Pacific’s decision to opt out of the project, the Lone Star Rail District, which is composed mostly of political members, has elected to continue with an expensive environmental study. Here is the reason for that decision, the lure of FEDERAL MONEY.
“The completion of the impact study is crucial to the project, because it would enable future funding, including federal money. The district expects to finish the environmental impact process by 2018.”
The board chose to accept the advice of John Rinard, senior programs director at Parsons Corp., an international construction and engineering organization, who advised, “In some cases, UP would return to a project.”
Mr. Rinard also gave this advice to the board which I am certain they were glad to accept. He doesn’t appear to be an innocent bystander:
“Rinard suggested that the Lone Star board, which includes several elected city and county leaders from all along the I-35 corridor, assert its political will and press forward with its goal of passenger rail.”
Have no doubt this is all about political power and MONEY.
Republished from San Antonio Business Journal, by W. Scott Bailey, Reporter/Project Coordinator, Apr 15, 2016. Image credit: LSTAR
The Lone Star Rail District’s board of directors convened in San Marcos on Friday, holding a special meeting to reinforce its commitment to continue work on a commuter rail plan for the Interstate 35 corridor. Board members voted to complete an ongoing environmental impact study to enable future funding for the proposed rail line that would connect San Antonio and Austin.
Joe Black, deputy executive director of the Lone Star Rail District, has warned that the region’s mobility challenges are only escalating, and the need for rail remains a priority. The board’s vote comes more than two months after Union Pacific officials terminated a memorandum of understanding with Lone Star Rail District that could have made the company’s existing freight tracks available for passenger trains, while a new freight line was created to the east.
Despite Union Pacific’s decision, Black said the possible use of the company’s infrastructure is not entirely dead.
“It doesn’t mean they are out of this entire deal,” Black told me after the board meeting. “I can’t predict whether they will come back or not.”
But Black said the Lone Star Rail District will explore other options to accommodate passenger rail service along the corridor. One possibility is to use some of the I-35 and Texas Highway 130 right of way to develop new passenger track.
Black said new commuter rail tracks could also be developed adjacent to the existing Union Pacific infrastructure. But one of the more intriguing possibilities is the outright purchase of the existing Union Pacific tracks.
“We do have options,” Black said. “We have to determine what is the right approach.”
One possibility, Black confirmed, is that stakeholders could ultimately determine there is no workable deal, that the proposed project is a “no go.”
But for now, Black added, board members will continue to work to bring passenger rail to a heavily congested corridor that is only going to see more vehicular traffic as San Antonio and Austin continue to grow.
W. Scott Bailey covers health care, tourism, sports business, economic development; he also plans and edits some special reports.
Republished from San Antonio Business Journal. CLICK HERE to read the original.
This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Please honor attribution.