GALVESTON — Any development of a commuter train connecting Galveston to Houston is still a ways down the track, according to the city’s transportation consultant.
John Carrara, the vice president of the Goodman Corporation, was scheduled to update the city’s Intermodal Transportation Committee about the future of rails on Wednesday, and by the way the item was put on the agenda, was not bearing optimistic news.
Item 1G on the Wednesday’s agenda for the Intermodal Transportation Committee was rather specifically titled “Reasons Light Rail from Galveston to Houston is not possible in the near future.”
Speaking before the meeting, Carrarra confirmed that he would deliver the disappointing, if not particularly surprising news, said that there were three major impediments to light rail projects that must be overcome for anything to happen in the future.
First, the sheer cost of the project, at an estimated $800 million, is too much for communities along the Houston-Galveston corridor to handle, even with outstanding financial cooperation between communities, Carrara said.
Secondly, Carrrara said that no regional group has stepped up to oversee such the project, which would be necessary given the number of communities a train have to pass through in order to connect the Space City with the island.
Finally, Carrara said that any commuter rail project must cooperate with Union-Pacific, which controls a majority of the existing rail lines between the two cites.
Carrara said that any realistic plans for a commuter rail line are at least five years away.
“We’re developing an interim plan that would at least provide commuter service in the form of buses,” Carrara said. That plan could include adding a bus route to Houston from the Victory Lakes park-and-ride in League City. Last year, Galveston began operating a bus route between from the island to Victory Lakes.
Carrara said the Goodman Corporation conducted a light rail feasibility study two years ago, exploring the possibility of creating a commuter train between Galveston and Houston. Carrara said the final version of the report should be released in March.