Federal railroad grant denied for passenger rail in central Texas

On Friday, the Federal Railroad Administration approved five corridors for passenger rail expansion in Texas and excluded the corridor connecting Austin, San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth.

"So that is disappointing news, but it's not the end of the track," said Travis County Judge Andy Brown. "We still have work to do, obviously, to get CAMPO and the MPO’s for San Antonio and Dallas on board with putting rail in their priorities for their plans."

The Federal Railroad Administration’s corridor identification and development program would provide $500,000 to study a proposed rail corridor. The grant award would make the Texas Department of Transportation’s proposed project eligible for additional federal funding at an 80 percent to 20 percent federal-state match.  

"What I'm planning on doing is meeting with representatives of the Federal Railroad Administration. I think I may have a meeting set on Monday," Judge Brown said. "I'm trying at least to ask them, A, could they just reconsider, and is there something we could do to get this in that plan for now? And if not, what is the path forward? How do we get into that?"

Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai in a statement said, in part, "We must do more to meet the demands of our time and address the key challenges we face as one of the fastest growing communities in the nation and improve transit with passenger rail in central Texas."

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson previously spoke at the nation’s capital looking to expand interstate transportation options.

"You have communities that would then allow them to maybe not live in the major metropolitan areas because of cost or otherwise. But still be able to participate in those economies," Mayor Watson said.


Judge Brown says they look forward to working with our state and federal partners on future rail projects.

"Just think of this: Next time you're stuck in traffic on I-35 between Austin and San Antonio, look off, you know, to the left of there, to the right, and think how nice it would be to be riding on a comfortable train with maybe a café car, having a cup of coffee, reading your phone or whatever, talking to people on the way instead of being stuck in traffic," Judge Brown said. "That's really what we're trying to solve for here."