Lawmakers lobby to expand high-speed rail service through ETX - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Lawmakers lobby to expand high-speed rail service through ETX

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A cheaper, quicker, cleaner and less stressful way to get to and from Dallas-Fort Worth could soon be coming through East Texas, into Louisiana. Local and state officials from Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas are hoping Amtrak can extend services further into the ArkLaTex.

"The Bossier-Shreveport area can visit Dallas-Fort Worth. Conversely, Dallas-Fort Worth area, and sites in between, could visit our region. So, it's just a win-win," said Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker.

Currently, Amtrak operates a 'Texas Eagle' route, stretching from San Antonio all the way to Chicago, using Union Pacific rails. A $750,000 dollar feasibility study, paid for by the East Texas Corridor Council, is looking to see how profitable it would be to add Shreveport-Bossier to that route.

"Does it work? Number two, how much does it cost? Number three, how fast can the trains go? And, number four, what's the potential revenue stream from the standpoint of how many people are going to be coming, so that you can project and cost analyze this," says Judge Richard Anderson with the East Texas Corridor Council.

Anderson says some insight as to whether this project is on track can be found on one of Amtrak's other routes. The 'Heartland Flyer' from Dallas to Oklahoma City is very profitable, as 25 percent of the travel to Oklahoma City is by rail.

"We think that more people will want to go to Shreveport-Bossier from DFW then they would from DFW to Oklahoma City," Anderson says.

Another proponent of this project is Louisiana representative, Roy Burrell, who says the state economy, unemployment rate, and even the environment would improve if this project gets the green light. "I feel like this Amtrak project is very important to Louisiana for the additional tourism it would create."

The feasibility study is expected to be finished by March 2013. The actual implementation of the route into Shreveport-Bossier could come later that year.

Copyright 2012 KSLA. All rights reserved.

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