Texas Supreme Court Approves Eminent Domain for Bullet Train

In a decision that could change the calculus on a beleaguered high-speed rail project, the state’s highest court rules that the railroad has the right to acquire land along the project route.

June 27, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Rendering of proposed Brazos Valley station

The proposed Brazos Valley station would be the only stop between Houston and Dallas on the bullet train's route. | Texas Central Railroad / Proposed Brazos Valley station

According to an article from the High Speed Rail Alliance, a Texas Supreme Court decision could provide a major boost to the faltering central Texas bullet train project. “The court affirmed by a 5-3 vote that Texas Central Railroad is an interurban electric railway company, which allows it to exercise the right of eminent domain—i.e., it can pay fair-market rates to acquire the land needed to construct the 240-mile railway.”

As we pointed out in a prior story, the project faces an uncertain future due to the eminent domain issue, the departure of a CEO, cost overruns, and unpaid property taxes.

The High Speed Rail Alliance argues that the train is “desperately needed” by residents and commuters in a region with one of the nation’s fastest growing ‘super commute.’ “One stretch of Interstate 45, which connects Dallas and Houston, ranks as the most dangerous road in America. Congested and deadly in the best of times, the road is a gridlocked nightmare when the region is hit by hurricanes and flooding. A world-class HSR system would help immensely with evacuation planning and execution.”

The article points to the futility of expanding freeways to reduce congestion. “Meanwhile, Texas’s efforts to relieve road gridlock by building and expanding highways leads to one boondoggle after another. Most infamously, it spent $2.8 billion to widen Houston’s Katy Freeway to 26 lanes. Morning commute times spiked, as did afternoon commute times, which were soon 50 percent longer.”

Friday, June 24, 2022 in High Speed Rail Alliance

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