The hits just keep on coming. It's another interesting month watching the rhetoric from rural interests intent on killing a high speed rail project between Dallas and Houston.
First we heard from Marty Hiles, Commissioner, Ellis County Community Development Sub Regional Planning Commission.
Mr. Hiles blasted Texas Central Railway with what we would consider to be comments that go well past the inflated stage. Hiles, in a press release, thinks the railway will use a construction zone four miles wide to build a 100 foot wide double-track railway. He also thinks that a private company like TCR would pay no tax revenue to the towns and counties along it's route. We guess he hasn't checked the records to see what railroads pay in property taxes in Texas because it's a big number. Mr. Hiles is also fuming that TCR won't divulge future ridership estimates. Actually, they don't have to because they are a private company and it's none of the business of the planning commissioner to demand it. Those riders will be on the trains, waving as they speed by at 200 miles per hour. Here's his press release dated April 25, 2016: http://localnewsonly.com/2016/04/texas-central-railroad-high-speed-rail-will-require-local-dirt-gravel-and-sand-to-build-a-25-foot-high-and-100-foot-wide-earthen-berm/ And here's the editorial response from Texas Central: http://localnewsonly.com/2016/04/texas-high-speed-train-will-provide-economic-development-jobs-and-extra-revenue-for-communities-along-the-north-texas-to-houston-passenger-line/
Next we have Texans Against High Speed Rail and their lawsuit trying to force the Texas Attorney General and the Texas Department of Transportation to divulge trade secrets and information that Texas Central has shared with TxDOT. Competitors could use those documents against the private company. That's kind of like asking Coca-Cola for their secret syrup formula so Pepsi could finally figure out what was in it. TAHSR's Dallas attorney issued a supoena for Texas Central officials to be deposed in early May in Austin with a laundry list of questions they want answered. Texas Central has responded and filed a court order to quash the deposition.
With the type of fervor that the rural opposition is dishing out we have to wonder if they will also be out with pitchforks when Interstate 14 comes ripping up their countryside in the years ahead. Oh, you haven't heard about I-14? It's going to link West Texas to the Louisiana border and tear right through some of the same rural counties up in arms over high speed rail. Of course the interstate will have a much wider footprint than two railroad tracks, not pay a penny in local taxes because it's a state/federal project and increase traffic dramatically throughout the hills and plains of Central Texas. Where is the outrage on I-14? Or is it OK to build a multi-lane wide highway gobbling up the countryside but it's not OK for high speed rail?