Eminent Domain Questions Still Dog Texas Central High Speed Rail Plans

The Texas Attorney General took a break from its crusade against unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud to weigh in on a controversial question of property rights.

2 minute read

December 28, 2021, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Legal questions about the use of eminent domain for the Texas Central Railway high-speed rail system between Houston and Dallas are persisting nearly six months after the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal for a lawsuit filed by a Leon County landowner, James Miles, potentially affected by the route's construction.

Planetizen picked up news of the unanswered legal questions surrounding the use of eminent domain for the Texas Central Railway in 2014, 2016, and 2020. In 2021, the news seemed mostly positive for Texas Central after the private rail company signed construction contracts signed and bagged the aforementioned decision by the state's highest court.

According to an article by Alexa Ura for the Texas Tribune, however, the legal case against the company's use of eminent domain has a powerful new proponent, adding a new twist in the saga.

"The Texas attorney general’s office has put its weight behind a landowner’s case against the companies developing a controversial Dallas-Houston bullet train, arguing they can’t force people to sell parcels needed for the high-speed rail project," writes Ura.

"In a legal brief filed with the Texas Supreme Court on Friday, deputies for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued the high court should reverse that appellate decision and rule in Miles’ favor because the companies fall short of the Texas Constitution’s definition of a rail company," explains Ura.

If Texas central clears these legal hurdles and acquires the necessary funding (promised to be sourced from private sources), the system would accommodate trains traveling up to 205 mph and making the trip between Dallas and Houston—which takes four hours by car—in 90 minutes.

Monday, December 20, 2021 in Texas Tribune

Large historic homes and white picket fences line a street.

The End of Single-Family Zoning in Arlington County, Virginia

Arlington County is the latest jurisdiction in the country to effectively end single-family zoning.

March 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

A view of the Boise skyline, across tress int he foreground. The state capitol is visible amongst other office buildings.

Skyline-Defining High-Rise Potentially Coming to Boise

A rendering making the rounds in Boise depicts a 40-story apartment building that would be taller than all other buildings in one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

March 20, 2023 - Boise Dev

Buildings on Wall Street, New York City

The ‘Goldilocks Zone’ for Office Conversion

A formula for the ideal office-to-housing candidate.

March 21, 2023 - Fast Company

Empty Parking Lot

Parking Reform Gains Momentum

More cities and states around the country are recognizing the value of eliminating parking requirements.

13 minutes ago - Congress For New Urbanism

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Developers Push Back on Zoning Review Fees

An increase in fees for commercial construction projects is raising concerns from local developers who say the industry already faces rising costs to build in the city.

1 hour ago - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Aerial view of traffic on road and buildings in the Bronx, New York City

MTA Proposes Pollution Mitigation Spending for the Bronx

Acknowledging the impact the city’s proposed congestion pricing program could have on underserved neighborhoods, the agency plans to spend over $130 million in revenue from the program on air filtration, trees, and other pollution reduction measures.

2 hours ago - The New York Times

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.