Despite setbacks, Lone Star Rail Project still on the table

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After numerous setbacks, the Lone Star Rail District board of directors says it still wants to move forward with the ongoing environmental study for the Lone Star Rail Project. The $2 billion Lone Star Rail Project has been in the planning stages for at least 10 years.

Plans propose a commuter rail line that would run from the San Antonio area, with 16 stops throughout Central Texas, reaching up to the northeast part of Williamson County. The proposal includes four car trains with 32 trains running every day from Georgetown to San Antonio.

Union Pacific and Lone Star Rail District singed an agreement 10 years ago go develop a route using Union Pacific’s tracks. However, in February, Union Pacific pulled out of the deal. The company said they had concerns about sharing the train tracks; fearing it would hurt Union Pacific’s business.

“Our regional mobility challenges are growing and the purpose of and need for Lone Star Rail are still front and center,” said Joe Black, deputy executive director for the Rail District. “The recent decisions of Union Pacific do not change the need for a congestion-proof alternative to Interstate 35 in Central and South Texas.”

Since UP tracks are out of the question, the board is looking at using the I-35 corridor, the SH130 corridor, the abandoned MoKan rail alignment and new right-of-way parallel to the Union Pacific mainline, as well as hybrids of these options.

The Rail District estimates the Lone Star Rail project is halfway through its project implementation process, and the organization expects to complete the environmental process by 2018.

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