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People who oppose the high speed rail line continue to oppose the high speed rail line

The DEIS hearings go as you’d expect them to.

Meetings to discuss a proposed high-speed train between Houston and Dallas pulled into some of the areas most opposed to the project on Tuesday night, as federal environmental meetings continue to make their way to Houston.

Residents in Jewett – perhaps the epicenter of animosity over the 240-mile line – showed up in droves to Leon County High School. At points, with a high school basketball game next door, parking was scarce as residents and elected officials from at least five counties came to the session.

[…]

Concerned about their rural character and their property rights, many landowners said they simply didn’t want train tracks crossing the county. Leon County commissioners have passed three resolutions and numerous other items intended as roadblocks to the rail line.

Many speakers Tuesday emotionally noted how the train risks their rural charm, some of whom live on land that has been in their families for five, six and seven generations. Opponents spoke of hunting and outdoor activities that the train would disrupt, along with aesthetics and possible noise and safety fears. At least two attendees suggested feral hogs in the area would run wild because of worries of shooting near the tracks.

Tales ranged from worries about a landowner’s autistic son who reacts poorly to loud noises, decades of family campouts, emergency response times for elderly ranchers and property sovereignty.

“This land is irreplaceable to us,” Logan Wilson said, reading remarks prepared for him by his daughter. “I believe we have the right to keep what is ours.”

Of 36 people who asked to speak publicly at the session, all voiced opposition to the project. About two dozen others asked about their feelings said they were against it. No one, when asked by a reporter, said they supported the train.

See here for some background. On the one hand, I sympathize with these folks. The train line will go through all these rural counties, but there’s only one station for them. I’ve no doubt I’d be unhappy in their position. On the other hand, public infrastructure projects have taken land from people since forever. It’s a price of progress, and it’s always been this way. The people affected get a chance to affect where the project is built, they get a reasonable price for the land that they lose, and let’s be honest, in this case they’d be getting a lot less attention and consideration if the project in question were another highway. I sympathize, but I think this rail line will be good for Texas, and I want to see it happen. I want the people affected to be treated fairly, but not to the point where they get a veto.

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5 Comments

  1. Jules says:

    The ridership of 7.2 million passengers per year in the DEIS is greatly exaggerated (and no back up data). TxDOT predicts 700,000 to 2.7 million and the Reason Foundation predicts 1.4 million (backup data provided).

    The Reason Foundation further states that the project will lose over $500 million a year.

    This project will go bankrupt. But, no worries – like a bankrupt Trump Casino, the people at the top will still make money.

    Just because Texas Central says they will offer a fair price for land does not make it true. Lawyer fees are not reimbursable in condemnation – many will not be able to afford challenging Texas Central if Texas Central is ever granted eminent domain powers. The poorer you are the worse you will be hurt.

    Having your land cut in half not only by a train but also by a new access road that Texas Central will generously gift to the counties to maintain will permanently divide ranches. The access road will require ranchers to build fences. So the drawings of cows roaming romantically under the train are false.

    The rural people do not want a station – the station is not “for them” – it’s to make others feel good about the project. The 4-years-in-the-making DEIS fails to even count 1 person in their ridiculous 7.2 million figure riding to the half-way point. “Available travel demand model does not include ridership estimates at the Brazos Valley Station at this time.” DEIS p 3.14-29

    The HSR will not be good for Texas.

  2. Randall says:

    1) Shinkansen is the Betamax of high speed rail. No one uses it except for Japan and Taiwan. TGV is like the VHS of high speed rail.

    2) High speed rail is obsolete: Even SNCF, the French State owned high speed rail operator, is investing in hyperloop. Autonomous cars on a dedicated traffic lane, that is the future. Hyperloop sleds around cities are the future. Texas in not postwar Japan. Dirty secret: people who can afford a car don’t use public transportation. Those who want to be driven ride the Von Bus or Megabus.

    3) Having a viaduct is usually no better than a berm because of the access roads Texas Central is awarding themselves that run parallel to the viaduct, and which limit access. Also, the electrical infrastructure being put in to support the train will also harm the environment and people.

    4) There is no infrastructure in the “infrastructure corridor” in most of the Houston area where this train will approach Houston. NW Houston and Harris County will suffer greatly. Hempstead road will be ruined and businesses will simply die.

    4) Japan Central committed huge atrocities against American Servicemen in WW II. They have never apologized or make reparations. They are the parent company of Texas Central. Texas Central is seeking American taxpayer funded loans to build this project.

    5) The 17 rich families behind this project will prosper greatly when they get their preferred return after the Federal Loans are obtained. When it goes bankrupt, they will buy the whole project out of bankruptcy for pennies on the dollar. They will win both ways.

    6) Tax payers will be stuck maintaining this boondoggle forever–the crossings (what few are allowed), the access roads, the stations, they facilities, etc. So much cheaper to use driverless cars………

    7) The ROW will be used for other things besides high speed passenger rail(freight, broadband, some electrical selling, other unknown things that will profit Texas Central)

    8) The train will run on coal to power its electrical grid. Environmental damage from building it will take 80 years to repair.

    9) Northwest Mall is a terrible place for the station. It needs to be central, like Downtown for instance.

    10) If Texas Central was smart, they would use Highway ROW for the entire approach into Houston without having to use eminent domain, which they don’t have. The default judgment they are touting has no legal precedent to create eminent domain for them

    11) Did I mention that Texas Central is using Virgn Atlantic to operate the train, who has no experience in operating trains? Hopefully they won’t take the Hockley curve too fast and kill everyone like in Washington State!

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    @ Jules:

    I think that’s a very good assessment of things. I question though, what happens if it goes bankrupt. Property taxes will still be owed in each county the track goes through, so what happens? Each county sues for the tax and seizes their section of track via forclosure? That section of track gets sold on the courthouse steps at a tax sale?

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    *what happens if it goes bankrupt?

    *foreclosure

  5. Jules says:

    Well I guess for one they will default on their giant federal loans.

    Who got hurt when Enron went belly up? A lot of people.