TxDOT Rail Director on High Speed Rail

The following are links to articles and a podcast where TxDOT Rail Director, Erik Steavens, addresses High-Speed Rail in Texas.

  • Here is an interview of TxDOT Rail Division Director, Erik Steavens from October 14, 2014, discussing HSR in Texas.  Read the article and listen to the audio here:

Guest on the Infra Blog: Erik Steavens, Rail Division Director, TxDOT

Or read the transcript here:  Erik-Steavens-on-The-Infra-Blog102014

“I think this is a landmark, historic watershed moment.  What we’re going to be doing is having discussions with people on how we implement segments of this plan that can work with either a governmental agency or the private sector.”

“These projects are part of a larger statewide network,” said Erik Steavens, TxDOT’s rail director. “You obviously want to see the network built out in a manner where it can be built out logically.”

The journalist, Brandon Formby, who wrote the article also includes:

The route and funding aren’t all the state has to figure out. There’s also the question of what type of train will run on the track. The state could have its own trains, or it could pay the Texas Central Railway to run its trains on TxDOT tracks so passengers from Houston could have a one-seat trip to Fort Worth.

Another key decision is picking and securing a station on the Dallas end of the line. The state wants to tie the line into a private developer’s planned line to Houston.

“It should be something where we have those tied together,” Steavens said.

“Our hope is that the project gets through the environmental clearance and that an investor would be able to take the project and move it to implementation,” said Erik Steavens, Director of Rail Programs for TxDOT.

Erik Steavens, the Rail Division Director for TxDOT, was next and began by positing a standard question that can be asked of all infrastructural projects: “What is the best role that government (TxDOT) can provide on these projects?”  Unsurprisingly, the answer varies with each project.  But this is why, Erik noted, a dynamic approach is required for each endeavor.  As an example, he cited one instance where TxDOT is serving as the binding force between several entities on the local and non-local levels to facilitate the development of a high speed rail line in Texas that would connect several major cities in Texas.  Because of their involvement, high-risk environmental studies of the Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail are being 100% privately funded by Texas Central, the draft of which is slated for completion by Q1 2016.

Erik concluded by making it clear what TxDOT can and can’t do for its constituents.

CAN:
-Facilitate development of a rail line by assisting with NEPA, EIS, Alternatives Analysis, Scoping Meetings, etc.
-Work with private parties to develop P3’s that engage government to the degree allowed by legislation

CAN’T:
-Provide funding for development of a rail service
-Operate rail service
-Own rail equipment
-Provide maintenance for rail and/or equipment”