Editor's note: This story was updated Jan. 26 to reflect additional reporting by the Kansas City Star.
A privately funded bullet train between Dallas and Houston and a passenger rail line connecting suburban North Texas are among a litany of transportation projects considered priorities by President Donald Trump’s transition team, according to The Kansas City Star.
But what that means for the projects either financially or in a regulatory sense wasn't immediately clear. A report from Politico Pro questioned whether the document at the center of the Star's story actually reflects the Trump transition team's thinking. The Star and its Washington bureau published a subsequent story in which the White House, a congressional office, a governors association and a consultant gave varying descriptions of the document's ties to Trump.
The Star reported that the document doesn't detail how the listed projects "would be funded, how the federal government prioritized these projects or any timeline for completion." It is not known if the document is finalized or a draft, according to The Star.
“The projects are among a total investment of $137.5 billion described in the document,” The initial Star report read. “Half that amount is supposed to represent private investment.”
Trump earlier in the day signed an executive order that aims to expedite the environmental review process of infrastructure projects, something that can often take years and cost millions of dollars.
Texas Central Partners is developing the controversial Dallas-Houston bullet train, but has said it would not take any public money to build the multi-billion dollar project. Company officials have previously spoken about applying for federal loans designed to provide low-interest financing for large infrastructure projects. That's a system Trump pitched on the campaign trail as a way to entice private investment in American infrastructure.
In a statement, Texas Central said it was "pleased" to be considered a priority.
"Texans are looking for safe, reliable and productive transportation options," the statement said. "The high-speed train answers that call for the region, state and country. We look forward to working with the new administration, moving ahead with the project’s free-market approach."
But the Politico Pro story published late Tuesday cited a former Trump transition team official who said the document did not come from anyone on his team.
Meanwhile, the president of a group opposing the high-speed line called the list "preliminary" and said upon closer inspection, Trump may not support a project that plans on using Japanese technology.
Kyle Workman of Texans Against High-Speed Rail said Trump "will not want to make Japan great again" with a project that may rely on eminent domain.
"We are confident that President Trump will identify projects of worth and benefit to America and this will not be one of them," Workman said through a spokesperson late Tuesday night.
The other rail project mentioned in the documents is Dallas Area Rapid Transit's Cotton Belt rail line, which would connect Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport through suburbs and Far North Dallas to an existing line in Plano. Last year, DART included that project in its long-term planning documents. That project is seeking federal funding.
DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said late Tuesday that the agency is happy the project is on the list but that officials there also don’t know what being included means for the planned line.
DART is not currently planning on raising private capital for the project, and the agency doesn’t know if that would be a requirement for receiving certain federal funds.
“There’s still so many unknowns,” Lyons said.
- Critics of Texas Central Partners' plans to build a Dallas-Houston bullet train are hopeful Texas lawmakers will stop the project in its track during the current legislative session.
- Texas Central Partners' leaders have vowed to avoid the pitfalls that killed a similar bullet train project more than 20 years ago.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the source of a document outlining President Trump's transportation priorities. The document came from Trump's transition team, according to the Kansas City Star.
Disclosure: Texas Central Partners has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.