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Land acquisition for the high speed rail line

It’s going great, according to the CEO of Texas Central High Speed Railway.

Realty News Report: When will Texas’ first high-speed passenger railway between Dallas and Houston actually begin service?

Tim B. Keith: We expect to begin construction on the nation’s first truly high-speed train system as early as next year. We expect that construction will last about four years, and that 2022 will be the first full year service.

Realty News Report: Has any land been acquired yet?

Tim B. Keith: Overall, the response to the project’s ongoing work with landowners has been positive. We have recently begun a voluntary land purchase program. As a result of personalized conversations with landowners we are encouraged with the progress. Our conversations with landowners are in various stages of the process, including those who have fully agreed to sell their land.

Realty News Report: There’s a massive amount of right-of-way to be acquired between Houston and Dallas and eminent domain will be employed. Can you please tell us about your plan for undertaking this?

Tim B. Keith: High-speed rail has one of the smallest land footprints per user of any method of transportation. We estimate that the train will operate on a very narrow footprint at approximately 100-150 feet wide in areas where the tracks will run. The project’s land purchase program has recently begun and we are encouraged by its early results. Texas’ Constitution and state statutes have long granted eminent domain authority to railroads such as Texas Central, as well as pipeline companies, electric power companies and other industries. All support the creation of infrastructure necessary to serve the public efficiently and enjoy a healthy economy. The development of a high-speed train that will bring widespread benefits to Texans is built on positive relationships directly with property owners, and any use of this legal authority would be as a last resort. Our goal is to work with landowners and never have to use the court system in this process. With the growth of population over time, high-speed rail is the most efficient way to move the most people using the most efficient amount of land.

The rest is all stuff we know. It’s not surprising to think that some people have been happy to sell to Texas Central. Some others can probably be persuaded, with a third group not being interested at all. For this latter group, Texas Central will need to use eminent domain to get the land they need, but to get to that point they’ll have to survive the 2017 Legislature as well as an AG opinion, either of which could block them. If nothing bad has happened to them in the next ten months or so, they ought to be in great shape. If not, I hope they have a Plan B in place. Link via Swamplot.

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