"There seems to be a lot of interest and excitement in moving forward," Morris said. "If someone knocks on our door, we need to have the clear mechanics in place for either at-grade rail or high-speed rail."
Relatively small amounts of money are available to study high-speed rail in Texas, but the state did receive $15 million in federal funds to begin the process in 2011.
Also, in 2011 Texas received a $15 million federal grant to study high-speed rail from Dallas to Houston.
Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes and Fort Worth Councilman Jungus Jordan were among the officials who called for a more intensive effort to plan high-speed rail carefully in the region.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price also chimed in: "This is probably the next project equivalent to DFW Airport," she said. "There are a lot of proposals."
Steavens is the second director of the state transportation department's rail division, which was created in 2009, as many people in the state began to show renewed interest in improving passenger rail service across the state. The first director was Bill Glavin, who retired in July.