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State Says Commuter Rail Line To Austin Would Cost $2.4B

State Says Commuter Rail Line To Austin Would Cost $2.4B

POSTED: 5:48 pm CDT July 31, 2008 at KSAT.com

An estimated $2.4 billion price tag is the largest obstacle to relocating and building new rail lines that would move freight traffic away from city limits, according to one state official. Two reports to study the feasibility of such a move were released Thursday by the Texas Department of Transportation.

The reports investigated the costs and necessary actions to create a commuter rail line between San Antonio and Austin."We're looking at about a $2 billion price tag for relocation and building an entirely new line," TXDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Moczygemba.While the state said it is willing to explore the possibilities of a new rail line, any move would have to include Union Pacific, the owner of the existing lines.

One company official said adding 15 miles of new track to bypass the city would increase its annual fuel consumption by $1 million."If you add more train miles to a route for the railroad, you'll make trucking more attractive than railroad service, so if that's the case, you'll have more trucks on the roads and people don't want to see that," said Joe Arbona with Union Pacific.  The company said it currently has about 170 customers serviced by those rails. 

Moczygemba said the state has established a fund to begin paying for the new rail lines, but the Legislature hasn't actually added money to the fund as of yet. She said the state would likely have to form a partnership with Union Pacific to foot the bill, but an agreement would be tough if the new line affects business.

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