Called the "Trans Texas Corridor" plan, Perry said the innovative plan would improve transportation, move the transport of hazardous materials out of urban population centers, reduce air pollution and significantly improve opportunities for economic development.
With population projections showing that Texas could grow from 21 million residents today to 50 million over the next few decades, the Republican governor, who is seeking election to his first, four-year term, said planning for tomorrow's transportation needs is essential.
"We need a transportation system that meets the needs of tomorrow, not one that struggles to keep up with the needs of yesterday," Perry said. "The Trans Texas Corridor will map out a brighter future for Texas."
The plan would ease traffic congestion and increase the safety and security of Texans living in crowded cities and suburbs, Perry said. Texas would construct the system with a minimum expenditure of public money, he said, because of measures approved by the legislature and Texas voters last year that allow the state to use increasingly tight state and federal funds to partner with public and private entities.
Perry said the corridors, which have yet to be selected, would generally parallel many existing highway systems in the state. The corridors would link with existing interstate systems, three existing regional transportation systems, as well as major ports of entry in Laredo, El Paso, Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Houston.
Corridors would consist of six highway vehicle lanes -- three in each direction -- and six rail lines -- three in each direction. One rail line would be dedicated to high-speed commuter rail, one to high-speed freight rail and one to short-haul regional rail. The three lines could serve as the backbone of a local commuter rail system, Perry said.
Corridors also would have easements for petroleum, natural gas, electric and telecommunications lines. The governor said this would lead to increased public safety by gradually moving lines away from neighborhoods and population centers. At the same time, Texas businesses and citizens would have increased access to water utility lines and other resources.
When all segments are completed, the system would provide about 4,000 miles of roads, rail, water lines and lift stations to transport water from border to border, broadband, oil and gas pipelines, and electric utilities, he said. Construction could begin as early as this year.
Construction of the entire plan, which would extend all across Texas, is expected to take at least 25 years to complete, the governor said.