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Report: Texas Bullet Train, Dallas-Area Rail Line Among Trump's Transportation Priorities

JR Central
Japan Central's N700 high speed train, the same train that a private firm wants to bring to Texas.

A privately funded bullet train between Dallas and Houston and a passenger rail line connecting suburban North Texas are among a litany of transportation projectsconsidered priorities by President Donald Trump’s transition team, according to The Kansas City Star.

But what that means for the projects either financially or in a regulatory sense wasn't immediately clear Tuesday. And a report from Politico Pro questioned whether the document at the center of the Star's story actually reflects the Trump transition team's thinking.

The Star reported that the document doesn't detail how the listed projects "would be funded, how the federal government prioritized these projects or any timeline for completion." It is not known if the document is finalized or a draft, according to The Star.

“The projects are among a total investment of $137.5 billion described in the document,” The Star report read. “Half that amount is supposed to represent private investment.”

Trump earlier in the day signed an executive order that aims to expedite the environmental review process of infrastructure projects, something that can often take years and cost millions of dollars. 

Texas Central Partners is developing the controversial Dallas-Houston bullet train, but has said it would not take any public money to build the multi-billion dollar project. Company officials have previously spoken about applying for federal loans designed to provide low-interest financing for large infrastructure projects. That's a system Trump pitched on the campaign trail as a way to entice private investment in American infrastructure. 

In a statement, Texas Central said it was "pleased" to be considered a priority. 

"Texans are looking for safe, reliable and productive transportation options," the statement said. "The high-speed train answers that call for the region, state and country. We look forward to working with the new administration, moving ahead with the project’s free-market approach."

But the Politico Pro story published late Tuesday cited a former Trump transition team official who said the document did not come from anyone on his team.

Meanwhile, the president of a group opposing the high-speed line called the list "preliminary" and said upon closer inspection, Trump may not support a project that plans on using Japanese technology.

Kyle Workman of Texans Against High-Speed Rail said Trump "will not want to make Japan great again" with a project that may rely on eminent domain.

"We are confident that President Trump will identify projects of worth and benefit to America and this will not be one of them," Workman said through a spokesperson late Tuesday night.

The other rail project mentioned in the documents is Dallas Area Rapid Transit's Cotton Belt rail line, which would connect Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport through suburbs and Far North Dallas to an existing line in Plano. Last year, DART included that project in its long-term planning documents. That project is seeking federal funding.

DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said late Tuesday that the agency is happy the project is on the list but that officials there also don’t know what being included means for the planned line.

DART is not currently planning on raising private capital for the project, and the agency doesn’t know if that would be a requirement for receiving certain federal funds.

“There’s still so many unknowns,” Lyons said.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Brandon Formby writes about the challenges facing Texas’ largest metro areas as they experience unbridled growth. He joined the Tribune in October 2016 and is the organization’s first reporter based in Dallas. The Texas Tech University graduate spent more than 13 years at The Dallas Morning News, where he covered transportation, local government and politics.