The federal surface transportation board (STB) release a new ruling regarding Texas Central’s high speed passenger train between Houston and Dallas.
Opponents include congressman Kevin Brady and state representative Trent Ashby, whose districts lie in the path of the bullet train. Both pointed out the STB continues its position that eminent domain authority lies with the state.
Brady added the federal agency is requiring Texas Central to disclose what the congressman describes as “their shaky financial projections” in any future bid to start construction.
Texans Against High Speed Rail’s Facebook page posted Texas Central’s application is supposed to include financial and ridership information that Texas Central has been unwilling to provide. The organization says the time to complete the application will make Texas Central’s plans to start construction before the end of the year impossible.
Texas Central’s website and social media had no response to the STR’s latest ruling.
From congressman Kevin Brady:
Congressman Kevin Brady (TX-08) released the following statement after the Surface Transportation Board released a new ruling on Texas Central Railroad’s (TCR) petition for exemption:
“While I strongly disagree with this decision, the good news is this doesn’t give TCR eminent domain authority to seize property without landowners consent – and finally forces TCR to publicly disclose their shaky financial projections to the Surface Transportation Board in any future bid to gain authority to construct the project.
“This will reveal why private investors have abandoned the project and why taxpayers should not be on the hook when it ultimately fails.”
Today (7/16/2020), the Surface Transportation Board ruled that the proposed Houston to Dallas High-speed rail line is subject to Board jurisdiction. This is a change from previous ruling, in which the STB found TCR’s project was not subject to the Board’s jurisdiction and therefore did not require Board approval.
However, the Board denies Texas Central’s petition for exemption and finds that, should Texas Central wish to request Board authority for its project, an application process under 49 U.S.C. § 10901 would be required. The Board also notes that issues pertaining to eminent domain authority are matters of state law, and that the finding does not confer any federal power to take privately owned property.
From state representative Trent Ashby:
“The recent ruling by the Surface Transportation Board provided some much-needed clarity on the future of Texas Central Railroad’s proposed high speed rail project. While my preference has always been the STB deny the application outright, I was pleased to see the Board deny TCR’s petition for exemption from their jurisdiction. The Board reiterated that issues pertaining to eminent domain authority are matters of state law. Given the ballooning cost of the project and TCR’s inability to raise funds, securing eminent domain authority becomes increasingly more important to the viability of the project. Unfortunately for them, the only path to eminent domain authority is through the Texas Legislature, where we will continue to oppose this misguided project and fiercely protect landowners’ private property rights.”
Facebook post from Texans Against High Speed Rail dated July 16, 2020: