Mulling Trump, trains and Lone Star
I’ve got questions ... What, for instance, does the president really think about trains?
Some transit supporters, perhaps creatively looking for silver linings, speculated shortly after Nov. 8 that Donald Trump, having spent his life surrounded by New York subways and commuter trains, might be into locomotion. Can you really picture the wheeler-dealer sometime over the past 30 years riding the No. 4, grasping a metal pole among a crowd of morose Manhattanites, to get to a meeting on Wall Street? Me neither.
As president-elect and since, Trump has sent mixed signals. He and the Japanese prime minister talked about highspeed rail in early February, and the proposed Texas bullet train from Dallas to Houston appeared high on a list of favored mega-infrastructure projects purportedly prepared by Trump aides (though his transition team later denied involvement).
But the administration since has said it wants to halt $650 million of funding for a California rail project (though this could have something to do with Hillary Clinton’s 4.2 million vote advantage there). And then, under Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget released this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s New Starts program for transit would give grants only to projects that had already made it all the way through the tortuous approval process.
(Which, by the way, almost surely would have put Austin’s light rail project in a bad position, had it been OK’d by voters in November 2014.)
A presidential budget, of course, is only a statement of policy preferences. Congress writes the budget, not Trump.
Will the MoPac toll project be open before my wife or daughter take away my car keys?
I kid, of course. And I have a spare fob hidden away just in case.
But as to whether the misbegotten construction project will meet its latest projected end point of June 15, I just don’t see it. The section between Windsor Road and RM 2222