Transportation

Federal Panel Says It Won’t Have Oversight Of High-Speed Rail Project

Federal officials are saying “no thanks” to getting involved in a proposed, high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas. That means the state will have to make some big decisions on how that project goes forward.

The federal Surface Transportation Board has decided that the proposed Houston to Dallas rail line does not qualify as an interstate project. So that means any eminent domain issues will have to be handled by the State of Texas.

The train’s route could take it through farms and ranches in Grimes, Madison, and Leon Counties. The only stop planned between Houston and Dallas is near Bryan.

Congressman Kevin Brady is applauding the board’s decision. He says he’s not opposed to new infrastructure projects but he questions whether rural landowners would get any real benefit from the railroad. As for acquiring property, Brady says the state needs to make the final call and not Washington. 

“The thought that you’d be forced to sell that land for a project that may or may not ever happen, or if it starts could be abandoned, that is a real worry,” says Brady.

Brady says he’s also concerned that if the privately-funded project doesn’t get the ridership it’s hoping for, taxpayers could wind up with the bill.

“My problem is taking, beginning the process of taking property, on a project that frankly doesn’t have financial solvency, doesn’t yet have its full investors lined up,” adds Brady.

The developer of the project,  Texas Central Railroad, issued a statement saying it will study the board’s decision before deciding how to respond. And at this point they’re still moving ahead with the project.

http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2995624-Texas-Central-Railroad.html

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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