WHAT WE'RE FIGHTING FOR
Texas Central has chosen the most dangerous and cheapest option for the current high-speed rail route. Reroute the Route is dedicated to moving the high speed rail alignment to Downtown Houston rather than the Northwest Mall location where it is currently headed.
WHY WE NEED TO REROUTE
An engineering firm that evaluated the currently scheduled route alignment found that it contained increased risk due to its unusually sharp and lengthy curves, a type of hazard that frequently leads to train derailments. Texas Central only chose the proposed route because it is the cheapest route to construct – but it is also the most dangerous. We want to reroute the existing plan to allow for gentler curves - as recommended by rail engineers.
Train derailments can also be caused by buckling of tracks due to excessive heat. The Federal Railroad Administration reports add that “excessive compression can contribute to buckling that can severely warp tracks, and excessive tension may cause rail to fracture, both of which increase the risk of derailment." Increased frequency of extreme heat events is being identified as a potential impact that may raise the risk of buckling occurring, and steel buckling can occur when rail temperatures exceed 124 degrees, or the equivalent of an air temperature of 92 degrees. Between 1981 and 2010, Houston experienced a yearly average of 31 days exceeding 95 degrees. During the 2011 Texas heat wave, Houston experienced 108 days – including 15 consecutive days – exceeding 95 degrees. These climate facts make clear that buckling is an increasingly dangerous possibility.
The proposed Houston endpoint is not Downtown. It is not near the Convention Center or a large mass of daytime office workers. It is not near any light rail connection or airport connection. It is not even directly connected to the Northwest Transit Center, which is close by, but not connected to Northwest Mall. Placing the Houston endpoint here directly contradicts where travelers, residents, and commuters are located. If Texas will be spending billions of dollars on the creation of the high-speed rail, let's put it where they can actually access it.
If the Houston route was relocated to Downtown, economic growth in the region could increase. Its proximity to retail, lodging, and the convention center will likely result in more jobs, greater tax revenue, and investment opportunities. At its current planned location, there are little businesses or resources surrounding the Houston endpoint, requiring travelers to hitch a ride even after they arrive to Houston.
In addition, the high-speed rail is being constructed as a result of a public-private partnership. Texas' transportation projects are frequently funded this way, and continue to fail. For example, Toll Road 130 was a taxpayer backed loan to a private company. The project failed, went into bankruptcy, and was later bought out by the people for 10 cents on the dollar, sticking huge losses to the taxpayers. With an estimated $10 billion price tag on high-speed rail, this exposes a giant risk for Texas taxpayers.
Texas Central's current alignment would have the train built in an area that now serves as the relief valve for Houston’s floodwaters. As Hurricane Harvey demonstrated, we must not escalate the runoff and flooding problems already present in northwest Harris and Waller Counties.
The decision made by Texas Central to choose the current route was made without proper consideration for air and water quality. Protecting precious resources such as the Cypress and Little Cypress Creeks, and the 20,000 acres of the Katy Prairie, must be a key priority of any massive infrastructure construction project. A better option would be to concentrate the expected runoff and floodwaters along a more suitable corridor such as the I-45 or BNSF routes which already contain infrastructure and have fewer sensitive creeks or water features.