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Tech Could Enable 20-Minute Trips from Fort Worth to Dallas

The North Central Texas Council of Governments, with the help of engineering firm HNTB, has spent nearly a year answering the question: What would high-speed transit in the Metroplex look like?

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(TNS) — In two decades, folks traveling between Fort Worth and Dallas likely won't have to think about traffic congestion, construction or varying toll prices.

Getting to Dallas might take about 20 minutes, according to a study on high-speed transit.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments, with the help of engineering firm HNTB, spent a year answering the question: What would high-speed transit in the Metroplex look like?

The team came up with a proposal to run high-speed transit along the Interstate 30 corridor and narrowed possible technologies to high-speed rail or the hyperloop, a system of tubes through which a vehicle can travel almost without friction.

The team has been sharing the results of the first phase of its $15 million study at public meetings throughout North Texas.

"We can't just build our way out of congestion," said Brandon Wheeler, principal transportation manager at the Council of Governments. "We can't just add lanes to freeways."

Linking Fort Worth and Dallas

In the past year, authors of the study evaluated 43 routes connecting Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas. They determined the I-30 corridor was the most direct and least disruptive.

The study also evaluated five train technologies and identified high-speed rail and hyperloop, which have similar infrastructure characteristics.

High-speed trains, already in use throughout Europe and Asia, and can travel up to 250 mph. The hyperloop is expected to reach 650 mph.

"It sounds strange, but we're talking about technology that 20 years from now will be an afterthought," said Dan Lamers, senior program manager at the Council of Governments.

' Gateway to Texas'

The study also offers proposals for transit stations, which will act as "mini downtown areas," featuring hotels, apartments, restaurants, offices and retail, Lamers said.

"The development that will be able to occur around the stations is immense," Lamers said. "These are stations that are the size of airport terminals ... They're able to be built in a downtown urban environment."

These stations will be critical because the high-speed Metroplex connector could link to other high-speed transit projects, like the Dallas- Houston high-speed rail line being developed by Texas Central. If TxDOT's Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study comes to fruition, it would connect here, too.

Ideally, this network of high-speed transit will connect the 80% of Texans living in or near the state's five largest cities.

"You'll be able to, without a second thought, go from Fort Worth to Houston to see an Astros game and not have to worry about finding a place to stay overnight," Lamers said.

Ultimately, with the inclusion of DFW Airport, the Metroplex could be "the gateway to Texas from the world," Lamers said. And vice versa.

Transit study, part two

The project is about 15 to 20 years from completion, said Lamers.

The authors have hosted more than 130 public meetings.

"It's been our philosophy to involve folks early and often," Wheeler said. "We don't want to get somewhere along the way, where someone says, 'Hey, how didn't I know about this?'"

Public engagement will continue in the study's next phase. You can sign up to receive meeting notifications and project updates at nctcog.org.

The second phase of the study will navigate some of the more challenging regulatory requirements for the project, like the National Environmental Protection Act.

This process "will consider the impacts to any group you can think of," said HNTB Deputy Project Manager Chris Masters.

During the second phase, expected to last about two years, the team will develop financial and project management plans.

So, will this project actually come to fruition?

"I think it can," said Masters. "It just requires some money."

© 2021 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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