Backers of a Texas bullet train are moving to the next stop, selecting a team to build the Houston-to-Dallas line, despite not having a clear shot – yet – at construction.
Texas Central on Monday morning announced it reached agreement with Irving-based Fluor Enterprises and The Lane Construction Corporation, based in Connecticut, for further refinement and study of the proposed route. Once financing for the project, expected to cost at least $12 billion, is secured and federal approvals are obtained, the companies would then be the primary design-builders of the line.
The companies, both with decades of experience in their respective engineering and construction fields, were partly chosen because of their ties to Texas projects, Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in a release. Both have worked on highway and mass transit projects in the state.
Lane Construction is a subsidiary of Italy’s Salini Impregilo, which has built rail systems throughout Italy, Denmark and the Middle East.
If built, the Texas line would be the nation’s first privately funded high-speed rail project. The company has said it will not use federal or state grants, though it might obtain federally supported loans open to private companies.
Texas Central, which despite some opposition emerged from the state legislative session unscathed, is also awaiting a federal environmental process necessary to proceed. Company officials are also lining up financing for the project. Any construction will have to wait for those outcomes.
In 2014, officials predicted work would start by 2017. Based on typical timelines for federal review, the earliest construction could start on the line would be late 2018, meaning a 2023 completion, according to Texas Central’s previous timelines.
The company also continues to face opposition, especially in rural areas of Texas where some landowners remain steadfast in not selling their land, and local elected officials have said the project provides little benefit.
In the interim, Fluor and Lane Construction “will be working together on refining and updating the project’s construction planning and sequencing, scheduling and cost estimates, procurement and other design and engineering activities,” Texas Central officials said.
Neither company has an equity stake in Texas Central, officials said.