Mulling Trump, trains and Lone Star

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - Wear

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

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