TxDOT preparing plan for 2 rail corridors

AUSTIN (AP) - Advocates of high-speed rail in Texas are urging lawmakers and investors to develop corridors to take advantage of a generous match program from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is promising an 80-20 match with local or state funds. Experts say that's a nearly unprecedented match for rail, which usually requires a 50% contribution from local sources.

The department has designated 11 high-speed rail corridors nationally, including two that come through Texas.

No proposals have been made to develop those corridors, which would likely be created by partnering private firms with state and local governments. But passenger-rail advocates in Texas say the state ought to start moving if it wants to take advantage of the federal matching funds.

Texas Department of Transportation Executive Director Amadeo Saenz said the state is working on a plan in order to meet the federal government's September 2009 deadline for proposals. He said high-speed rail needs to be a part of the state's transportation mix.