February 7, 2017 – TRA Newswire –
Texas Central, developers of the state’s first high-speed train, announced today that it has marked a significant milestone in its land option program, the result of collaborative and ongoing engagements with property owners and stakeholders along the project’s potential route.
The company said it has reached option agreements on about 30 percent of the parcels estimated to be needed for the bullet train’s route in the 10-county stretch between North Texas and Houston. Negotiations have resulted in option agreements in all 10 counties, including 50 percent of the parcels for the proposed route in Waller and Grimes counties, where a group of anti-train protesters have been extremely vocal. Grimes County is the site of a Brazos Valley passenger station, a midway stop on the 240-mile line between the state’s top metro areas.
Texas Central’s option program compensates owners today in exchange for the right to acquire a parcel at a future date at an agreed price. The option offers are being made in select areas of alignments that are under review as part of the project’s environmental assessment.
“This is a significant step in the progress of the high-speed train and it reflects the positive dialogue we have had with landowners along the route,” said Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar. “Texans see the many benefits of a system that will provide a safe, reliable and productive alternative to the state’s transportation demands.”
Texas Rail Advocates Executive Director Chris Lippincott stated that “earlier today, Texas Central, the group developing the state’s high-speed train, announced several critical milestones for this exciting project. The announcement of land agreements in Waller and Grimes counties are particularly laudable considering the intensity of the campaign of misinformation aimed at the residents of those communities. Texas Rail Advocates will continue to support open, honest dialogue as our state moves toward a future that includes the option of high-speed train service for business and vacation travelers.”
Texas Central so far has hosted 28 information meetings throughout the 10 counties, allowing for additional individual conversations with project managers and subject matter experts.
The company said more than 3,000 families and businesses signed letters giving surveyors access as part of the environmental assessment. A substantial portion of the initial survey work has been completed and is continuing where needed, according to Texas Central. In those few cases in which Texas Central sought a court decision to allow survey access, conversations with landowners later resulted in a favorable resolution reached out of court in a majority of these instances.
Because of the positive collaboration with Texans along the route and the progress of the environmental assessment, Texas Central has withdrawn the remaining 17 cases to allow it to work with all landowners on an amicable approach for permission to survey.
Texas Central continues to work on infrastructure engineering design, development of safety practices and rules, design of the interior of the trains, best practices for the customer/rider experience and minimizing environmental impact while the federally required environmental process is underway.