After narrowing down the general location for Houston’s proposed bullet-train station last year, developers of the high-speed rail project have selected their preferred location.
Texas Central Partners and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Feb. 5 that the Northwest Mall is the preferred site for Houston’s station, according to a press release. The site is near the interchange between the Interstate 610 Loop and U.S. Highway 290. It was picked because developing the station there will have minimal impact on the environment and community. It also will allow the train to primarily follow existing rights of way and connect to Houston’s existing mass transportation system, among other factors.
Click through the slideshow above to see concept renderings — not the final designs — of the Houston station, along with other images of the train and its route. Watch the video below to learn more.
Lewisville, Texas-based Matthews Southwest will develop the Houston station, per the release.
“We look forward to helping create a new community that will also bring a transportation asset to all Houstonians,” Jack Matthews, president of Matthews Southwest, said in the release. “We are excited to work in an area with so much potential for vibrancy, including transit-oriented development.”
Plans for the Houston station include a multilevel station on a 45-acre site. The station’s concourses will include public areas, restaurants, bars, seating areas, concessions and newsstands, along with pedestrian connections to an adjacent parking facility, per the release.
Additionally, road improvements are planned for Post Oak Road at Hempstead Road, Post Oak Road at Old Katy Road, and West 18th Street at Hempstead Road.
“Houston continues to grow,” Turner said in the release. “Growing the smart way includes providing a wider choice of transportation options beyond more private vehicles and more roads. The Texas Bullet Train fits the transportation paradigm shift I have called for. And now with a preferred location for the Houston station, we are one big step closer to boarding for an exciting trip to the Brazos Valley and onto Dallas.”
Northwest Mall, an 800,000-square-foot mall built in 1968, closed almost all of its stores in 2017. The mall is owned by Houston-based Levcor Inc.
Last month, plans were revealed for the Brazos Valley station, the only midway stop on the rail line from Houston to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration signed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in December, approving the bullet train’s path. At the time, a specific location hadn’t been selected for the Houston station, but the Draft EIS evaluated three options: the Industrial Site Terminal, the Northwest Mall Terminal and the Northwest Transit Center Terminal. In August, Texas Central and the city of Houston agreed the Houston station should be built somewhere south of U.S. 290, west of the 610 Loop and north of Interstate 10.
Renderings and maps were also unveiled in January for a proposed Dallas terminal, set to be built on a largely vacant 60-acre plot south of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in the revitalized Cedars neighborhood. The site is near the I-30 and I-35 interchange, in an area that’s undergoing a transition from mostly light industrial and manufacturing facilities to a walkable neighborhood with repurposed and newly-constructed mixed-use developments.
The introduction of the bullet train to the Cedars neighborhood will accelerate and enhance economic growth in the southern edge of downtown, bringing in offices, retail, entertainment, restaurants, hotels, apartments and condominiums, Texas Central said in a news release.
Texas Central released renderings – final designs are pending – that show a multi-level station between South Riverfront Boulevard and Austin Street, with connections to DART’s light-rail system, buses and other transit systems.
The project will attract new residents to the area, encourage denser development of the Cedars neighborhood and aid the region’s highway congestion relief efforts, Texas Central leaders said.
“This station will be a magnet for economic activity in an area ripe for development,” Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar added.
Texas Central is an investor-owned project and therefore is not taking federal or state grants for construction or its operations, per the release. Overall, the highly anticipated but controversial project is expected to cost from $15 billion to $18 billion in 2017 dollars. The estimate includes construction labor, materials, indirect costs and roughly $2.5 billion for systems and rolling stock. The project will create about 10,000 jobs during the construction process and about 1,000 full-time jobs when operations start. About 124 of those permanent jobs will be Grimes County, or roughly 37 percent of the county’s unemployment base, per the release.
Once completed, the high-speed rail line is expected to remove 14,630 cars daily from Interstate 45 between Houston and Dallas, per the release.