Transportation

There’s A Public Meeting For Houston-Area Residents On The High-Speed Rail Project

The Federal Railroad Administration has been getting an earful as it gathers public comment on the proposed route for a high-speed train between Houston and Dallas. They have a meeting coming up Monday night to hear concerns in Harris County

Part of the high-speed rail line connecting Houston and Dallas would be built along Hempstead Road and, Texas Central, the company in charge of the project estimates it could create 1,000 permanent jobs.
Part of the high-speed rail line connecting Houston and Dallas would be built along Hempstead Road and, Texas Central, the company in charge of the project estimates it could create 1,000 permanent jobs.

Paul Marrack owns about three acres in a far corner of northwest Harris County. He and his wife are restoring a historic farmhouse and they plan to retire there. Their property is also along the bullet train’s proposed route.

Last year, Marrack said they started hearing from Texas Central, the private company developing the rail line.

“We received a letter saying we were going to be referred to attorneys,” said Marrack. “And we were eventually sued to allow them to survey our property.”

Marrack said Texas Central has since backed off on its legal action. He added the company also made an offer to buy the property but they have no desire to sell it. His concern now is that Texas Central will now try to use eminent domain authority to seize that land.

Texas Central V-P Holly Reed maintains they can use eminent domain because of their status as a railroad. But critics of the project contend the company doesn’t have that authority because they’re currently not running an active rail line.

As for their efforts to acquire property, Reed explained they’re now trying a more personal approach with landowners.

“It would be a last resort to go through the court process,” said Reed.

Texas Central is touting the high-speed train as an alternative to crowded freeways and airports. They said it will get riders between Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes with a stop midway near College Station.

The company adds the rail line will be built entirely with private money while providing hundreds of new jobs. But those fighting the project fear it would eventually need taxpayer funding.

Paul Marrack said he also questions whether the bullet train would to anything to help ease the region’s traffic woes.

“At the present time Texas does not have the population density that will support high-speed rail,” said Marrack. “It also does not address the need for mitigation of traffic congestion in Houston or Harris County.”

The Federal Railroad Administration is currently taking public comment as part of a draft environmental impact statement. They’ve been holding meetings along the train’s proposed route and they’re having one Monday night in northwest Harris County. It’s at Woodard Elementary School in Cypress and it starts at 6:00 p.m.

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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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