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Dallas Council To Look At Economic Impact Of High-Speed Rail Extension Before Train Leaves The Station

Whether high-speed rail service to Arlington and Fort Worth makes good economic sense for Dallas is the subject of a new study commissioned earlier this week.

City council members said in a resolution Wednesday they don’t support construction of above-ground rails in downtown, Uptown or Victory Park, besides the M-line Trolley.

Despite that opposition, they have committed to embarking on a four-month study that will analyze how the high-speed rail connection could impact existing plans for the city’s Central Business District, particularly the multibillion-dollar rebuild of Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.


As proposed, the route would cut through the southwest corner of downtown that houses Reunion Tower and the Hyatt Regency Hotel, The Dallas Morning News reported. Hunt Realty Investments hasn't been shy about its opposition to the proposed connection, which would derail its $5B plan to redevelop the 20-acre property around Reunion Tower.

At a recent Bisnow event, Hunt President Colin Fitzgibbons said the project is also counterintuitive to the city’s goal of erasing the longstanding divide between Downtown Dallas and the southern sector.

“The proposed route blocks the convention center and cuts it off from a large swath of Downtown Dallas,” he said. “I find it ironic that we’ve agreed to tear down I-345 and trench it so that we can stitch two key pieces of our core back together while, at the same time, many of the same players are talking about repeating that mistake with an elevated rail line.”

The line would be elevated in Dallas while going underground in Arlington and Fort Worth. An underground option isn't feasible for Dallas without requiring a transfer to a different train, a major sticking point for advocates, who claim the project may be less beneficial for Dallas than communities on the west side of the Metroplex.  

The proposed connection hinges on the success of the long-awaited bullet train, a Texas Central Partners project that aims to connect Dallas to Houston with a stop in Grimes County. 

Texas Central encountered numerous property rights issues along the way, and by 2022 the project was all but dead. Later that year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of eminent domain for the project, effectively resurrecting the effort from its nearly moribund state.

Amtrak, which has essentially taken over the bullet train project amid a leadership vacuum at Texas Central, said it envisions an even larger project than what was originally conceived in 2009. Amtrak and the North Central Texas Council of Governments received a combined $1M from the federal government this year to help make the extension to Arlington and Fort Worth a reality.

In total, the bullet train project could cost as much as $40B, according to a 2023 study by the Reason Foundation.

The city council will revisit the Dallas-to-Fort Worth high-speed rail discussion after it receives the results of the economic study, the resolution says.