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TxDOT Looking At High Speed Rail For South Texas To Oklahoma City

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A Texas Department of Transportation study shows that portions of IH-35 in Bexar County rank 35th out of 100 roads in the state that are the most congested. A portion of IH-35 in Dallas ranks 9th most congested.

Combine that type of congestion with the number of people steadily moving to Texas, and a real transportation nightmare could be in store.

"There [are] over 1,000 that move to Texas daily,” said TxDOT Public Information Officer Laura Lopez. "So when you look at the number of people that are going to be moving to Texas, and unfortunately with the highways not being built as quickly to meet those demands, we need to look at other forms of transportation."

The department is hosting a series of public meetings to gather feedback for a high speed rail system that would connect points south of San Antonio to points north of Oklahoma City.

A passenger line already exists – about 850 miles of track – but TxDOT wants to know if a train with increased speeds would work better. A study commissioned in 2012 will be completed in late 2014 that will give experts the answers to factors like costs, benefits, and potential ridership.

However, in the meantime, the department will be in communities to learn what residents think of the possibilities.

"It is currently being reevaluated to see what can be done to help folks use passenger rail instead of using their vehicles to travel, especially for those that live in San Antonio and may work in Austin; recreational purposes, just using an alternative form of transportation instead of using their vehicles," Lopez said.

There will be 12 meetings overall; four in south Texas this week, including San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Laredo and Harlingen. TxDOT is working with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to collaborate on the Texas-to-Oklahoma system.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.