The Houston-to-Dallas bullet train project is supposed to be able to transport people from one city to the other in just 90 minutes. But is the plan for high-speed rail getting any closer to reality? Announcements and hearings have been happening, of late, including several public meetings Monday in the Houston area.
Gail Delaughter, transportation reporter with Houston Public Media, says Houston-area residents whose property would be affected by the proposed train route have been expressing strong opposition and sounding the alarm about what they say are aggressive tactics of Texas Central, the private company that is developing the rail line. The Federal Railroad Administration is currently taking public comment in the Dallas and Houston areas on a draft environmental impact study for the line.
Delaughter says residents of northwest Harris County, where a meeting was held Monday, fear the bullet train line would harm their long standing rural way of life. Residents say they aren’t interested in selling their land. Others say they have heard from lawyers representing Texas Central.
Delaughter says Texas Central claims to have the power to take the land it needs by eminent domain. But because the railroad is private, and has no trains or track in operation, opponents question the company’s assertion.
“Experts we talk to say they are a private company and they don’t have that authority,” Delaughter says.
Meanwhile, the issue of where train stations would be located is challenging for the city of Houston, Delaughter says. A proposed Houston station location is several miles outside downtown, near U.S. 290 and Loop 610. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner supports the site, and hopes choosing it would encourage retail development in the area.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.