April 20, 2022 - TRA Newswire -
While Texas Central idles its engine for the state Supreme Court to issue a ruling to determine if they are "really a railroad" and have eminent domain authority to build a bullet train line between Dallas and Houston, the rural political sharks are circling.
A group of 2 rural Republican state senators and 10 representatives have sent a letter, called a Supplemental Amicus Curie, to the Texas Supreme Court justices urging them to deny Texas Central the right to build the high-speed rail line. They cite that the railroad has not paid over $620,000 in 2021 property taxes on lots it obtained for right-of-way it will need to to build out the railroad.
Parties on both side are waiting for the ruling from the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case this past January. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office even inserted themselves into the case, arguing against Texas Central. The legislators submitted the original "Friend of the Court" brief in 2021 when the case of James Fredrick Miles vs. Texas Central Railroad was filed.
In the meantime Texas Central executives have to wait out the court decision, which may not come until this summer, tying the railroad's hands from proceeding with the multi-billion dollar project. Years of litigation and two years of Covid-19 setbacks forced Texas Central to release much of their staff. Texas Central had already spent over $300 million in their due diligence to obtain Federal Railroad Administration approvals and to acquire parcels of land for the bullet train, which would connect Dallas and Houston in 90 minutes with fast, frequent service.
TRA reached out to Texas Central for comment but was not able to reach a spokesperson at this time.
State Representative Ben Leman, former chairman of Texans Against High Speed Rail, claims that Texas Central has no permits, no money and this project needs to be ended.
Rural Republican state senators and representatives filed dozens of bills in the state legislature over the past decade, trying to kill the high-speed rail project, with only two bills making their way to Governor Abbott's desk. They primarily dealt with safety and security issues.
Last December Congressmen Kevin Brady (TX-08), Jake Ellzey (TX-06) and Michael McCaul (TX-10) sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressing their continuing opposition to Texas Central's project. See opinion posted December 21, 2021 by Robert Leilich: Brady, Ellzey and McCaul don't understand why Texas needs high-speed rail.
Photo credit: Texas Central