- Legislation that could throw a wrench into a private company's plans to build a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston have made it out of committee and are headed to the full state Senate, according to the Texas Tribune.
- If passed, the bills would prohibit state funding for the Texas Central Partners proposed bullet train, as well as for other privately held high-speed rail projects. Other pieces of legislation would also require Texas Central to build the system so that it is able to accommodate different types of trains and offer the land it has acquired back to the original landowners if the project doesn’t come to fruition.
- The Texas Dept. of Transportation said that if the bills passed, it would still be able to provide Texas Central advice, review its plans and build any necessary connecting infrastructure around its high-speed rail stations.
The five bills that made it through committee are part of a 20-bill package related to high-speed rail. One of those would prevent surveyors for Texas Central from entering and marking anyone's property unless TxDOT declares Texas Central a railroad company.
Rail advocates said the legislation could stop the development of high-speed rail projects in general, which they say could harm the area, as high-speed rail can reduce congestion and provide more options for commuters around the state. If built, Texas Central's proposed system would move travelers between Dallas and Houston in 90 minutes.
Land acquisition is at the top of lawmakers' list of concerns with the high-speed line, primarily due to vocal and organized opposition from landowners along the proposed route. Despite different interpretations of state law, the company stands by its assertion that it is entitled to take land via eminent domain, although company spokespeople have said it would only use it as a last resort. According to Texas Central, more than 3,000 landowners have given permission for surveyors to access to their property to complete the required environmental assessments.