Houston is looking to add hundreds of miles of rail in its bid to compete with the booming transit-oriented development industry in its city.
In a move that’s expected to take years, the city is pushing ahead with plans to build two new high-speed rail lines.
The first, a $1.9 billion project that would connect Houston to Houston’s major airports, would stretch the city from the U.S. 101 Freeway in the north to Interstate 10 in the south.
It would connect to the Houston Ship Channel, a network of tunnels, bridges, and tunnels that connect the Gulf Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
The second, a project called High Speed Rail 2, would extend the line to the west coast, connecting Houston to San Francisco Bay and connecting to other rail lines in the Northeast and Midwest.
Both the new lines are designed to reduce congestion on existing rail lines and increase the amount of freight movement that can be done.
Houston is also building a rail system of its own, a new rail line between the city and Houston International Airport that’s the most expensive in the country at $8.4 billion.
“Houston is a leader in this type of technology and it’s very important that we get the investment in our rail system,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who said the city has already invested more than $400 million in rail lines for the Houston International Corridor and the Uptown Rail Link.
Houston also is moving ahead with a rail project that it says will create nearly 400 jobs.
The Houston Regional Transportation Authority is developing a rail line that would carry up to 1,500 people a day.
The project will connect to existing rail and freight rail lines that are currently under construction or under construction, such as the Houston West Freight Corridor, and the Houston East Freight Line, which is under construction and scheduled to open in 2019.
In addition, Houston is building a second rail line, called the Houston Rail Link, that would link to the East Freights Railway and a rail station that is currently under development near Houston International airport.
“The rail lines will connect with other rail systems in the region, so the overall freight and passenger experience is going to be very good,” Turner said.
“We’re going to create an incredible economic boost and create jobs.”
A $1 billion rail project in Houston was one of the most costly in the United States.
The rail line connecting Houston and Houston East Airport, which runs through the city, is expected to cost more than twice as much as the rail project between Houston and downtown.
But the rail line is expected be completed by 2021 and be able to transport more than 1,200 people per day.
That means the rail plan will be able, in part, to ease congestion along the existing rail network.
“When you look at what is going on in Houston and the rail system, it’s a real advantage because the rail lines can be utilized to get freight from the city of Houston to the other rail stations,” said David Haines, director of transportation studies at the University of Houston.
“It’s a lot easier to get the freight from one rail line to another.”
In a city that is already facing a shortage of public transit options, Haine said that rail is a logical choice to expand service.
The federal government awarded Houston the $1,800 million that was needed for the rail proposal, which would be paid for through tax revenues and a local sales tax.
Hainest said Houston will be paying about half of that.
The rest will be used to pay for capital improvements on the rail and to pay down the city’s debt.
In the city with the highest unemployment rate, Hainees said it’s important to provide people with alternatives to commuting.
“This is going in line with our mission statement as a city of opportunity, and this is what’s driving the rail initiative,” he said.
The high-tech city of about 1.6 million has seen the cost of its rail system rise to about $1 million per year, with the rail cost projected to be about $3.5 million annually.
Haineest said the rail money will help the city meet its obligations to its customers, which include paying for rail maintenance, upgrades to existing lines, and maintaining a network that is secure, reliable, and reliable.
“A lot of the rail in Houston is not as reliable as it could be,” Hainers said.
He said the new rail lines would be designed to meet the needs of those customers who need to travel farther and faster than what can currently be done by the existing system.
“These are the people who are going to drive, or take their children to school, or go to a concert,” he added.