City hears concerns on rail project

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It’s no secret that Steven Rappolee does not want a high-speed electric train traveling through his land.

The Centerville resident presented his case against the Texas Central High-Speed Railway during a public forum meeting on Dec. 2 at the Truman Kimbro Convention Center in Madisonville. Rappolee is not just concerned about his land and the land of his neighbors, but also the way of life for Texans.

“Texans drive pickup trucks, not electric train cars,” he said. “My main concern is the economics of the project. If you take 600 factories out of production, you’re taking $720,000 out of the rural Texas economy.”

Rappolee was one of five area residents who asked questions and expressed concerns over the high-speed rail project, which will run from Houston to Dallas at speeds of 200 miles per hour. In addition to Rappolee, Leon County residents Richard Honeycutt, Janet Jones, Phyllis Robinson and Kyle Workman also asked questions about the project.

“This will have a regional effect,” Jewett resident Christen Workman said. “Property values will plummet, which will decrease tax revenue.”

The main questions asked at the meeting ranged from the structure in terms of the investor and the rebuilding of roads to the safety of the system and whether or not the project is profitable. Rappolee thinks the project will be a bust.

“A product that is coming through our property has only succeeded in Paris and Tokyo,” he said. “Paris has three times the population density of Houston. It has proven time and time again that high-speed rail is not profitable.”

Travis Kelly, vice-president of government relations for the Texas Central High-Speed Railway, said the project would have a minimal affect on the region.

“This is a privately-funded project, which means it will not affect the taxpayers,” Kelly said. “There are some congestion issues in Madison County, but we want to make sure it affects the citizens in a minimal manner. Some of the people I talked to like the fact that a significant portion of the of the corridor will be elevated.”

There were two proposed routes that were discussed last week — one following the utility alignment which runs parallel with Center Point Energy and Encore Energy, and the other which runs parallel with the BNSF Railroad tracks. Center Point Energy serves Houston and the surrounding area, while Encore serves the DFW area.

“The purpose of this meeting was to hear comments from the public,” Kelly said. “Now we will inform our engineering firm about these concerns.”

More information on the project can be found on www.dallashoustonhsr.com.

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