Lone Star Rail is currently conducting environmental and preliminary engineering studies on the proposed LSTAR passenger line, moving toward the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement and securing of a Record of Decision from the federal government in a two- to three-year time frame. Concurrently, the district is working on an Alternatives and Fatal Flaw Analysis on the urban freight rail bypass line to identify a preferred technical alignment alternative by October of this year. Environmental studies of that alignment will start soon after completion of the analysis and selection of the preferred alternative.
Financial planning is ongoing, and the district is currently in discussions with the cities and other jurisdictions in the corridor regarding the provision of operating and maintenance (O&M) funds for the service. The securing of reliable O&M funding sources is a necessary step for the district to pursue and leverage the mix of federal, state, local and private funding, financing, and capital that will be necessary to begin the next major phase of the project — final design and construction. To that end, the district has set a target of the end of 2011 to have the required agreements in place with local jurisdictions defining their financial commitments to the continuing operations of the future system.
Joseph Black is the rail director/operations manager for the Lone Star Rail District.