Temple: McLane says high speed rail is something to get excited about
Temple businessman Drayton McLane, Jr., who, in December, was named chairman of the board of Texas Central Partners, which is developing a high-speed rail system between Dallas and Houston, says he thinks the project is something people in Texas “can get excited about.”
"This will be the largest privately funded project ever to build anything in United States,” he said.
"This will separate Texas from the rest of the United States,” he said.
The train, traveling at speeds of 240 miles per hour, would link the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Houston, reducing travel time to less than 90 minutes, developers say.
"The goal is that every morning around 6:30 a train will leave every 30 minutes,” McLane said.
"It won't be disruptive,” he said.
“It's not loud, it's an electric train. It just has a swish."
The high-speed rail would skirt the eastern edge of Central Texas, passing through Navarro, Freestone, and Leon Counties.
Late last month, The Federal Railroad Administration released its draft environmental impact statement on the project.
The U.S. Department of Transportation called the report's release "an important milestone" in the permitting process of the train.
The study took four years to complete.
The FRA said the train would "alleviate the strain" on the state's existing infrastructure and "is needed to accommodate growing demand."
The company must still hold public hearings in the 10 counties through which the rail system will pass.
The system will not require any train crossings McLane said.
"And one of the beauties of this is because the train is going to go 220 miles an hour, we can't have grade crossings, the train will be about 25 to 35 feet in the air."
Work on the $15 billion project could begin as early as next year and the project could be finished by 2024 or 2025, and it won't cost taxpayers a dime, McLane said.
"It will help the taxpayers, they're not paying for this is got to be paid by private investment and it will be fun and exciting," McLane said.
The project will create thousands of jobs, he said.
“They estimate that there will be at least 10,000 employees each year for five to six years," he said.
McLane, who’s now chairman of the McLane Group and other family-controlled companies, owned the Houston Astros from 1992 until 2011.
He’s a Baylor University graduate and a former chairman of the school’s board of regents.
He provided the lead gift in 2012 for the on-campus football stadium that now bears his family’s name.