The Texas Department of Transportation held an open house Monday evening at the Windcrest Civic Center to inform the public and seek public input about a proposed passenger rail stretching from Oklahoma City to south Texas.
TXDOT is holding the meetings throughout the 850 mile stretch under consideration.
“It’s about time,” said Tom Nesbit, who is eager to see a passenger rail pull into the Lone Star State. “That used to be the best way to travel, especially in the United States. You got to see some of your own country.”
The series of meetings are part of a federally funded, roughly two year study of the project TXDOT is conducting.
No decisions have been made about where the rail would stop, how often service would run, or even what kind of rails would be included.
All of that TXDOT hopes to glean from public input.
“Who would be using this passenger rail? The traveling public. So this is the perfect opportunity for us to get public input to let them know this is what we're proposing and this is what we want input on,” said TXDOT spokesperson Laura Lopez.
The rail proposal is largely driven by the need to alleviate congestion on already overcrowded Texas highways, particularly on Interstate 35.
“I have substantially improved my vocabulary driving on I-35,” Weldon Hammond joked at Monday’s meeting. “It’s gotten worse and worse and worse, so this sounds like a reasonable alternative to travel on 35.”
Passenger rails already exist in Texas, but TXDOT says they are not conducive to travel within the state, especially for a quick trip.
"You have a lot of people who live in San Antonio but may work in Austin or may commute to other parts of the state, so this is an opportunity to look at other forms of transportation,” said Lopez.
The project could add passenger rails south of San Antonio, which currently do not exist.
TXDOT began studying the passenger rail project in October 2012 and anticipates completing the study in December 2014.
Only one public meeting was scheduled in San Antonio.
You can find out more about the proposed passenger rail and submit your comments online at www.TXOKRail.org.