County urged to confront rail project


A lighter tone of a Madison County Commissioners' Court meeting turned a bit heavy when two county residents informed the county about upcoming meetings about a proposed high-speed rail project.

Gene Whitesides told commissioners that Madison County does not have an advisory group to fight against the Texas High-speed Rail, and needed a committee that advises and recommends how to develop meaningful engagement papers and methods to fight the rail and the Federal Rail Administration.

The FRA also allowed erroneous information to be spread about the meeting locations, and that an FRA representative was dismissive about Madison County, Whitesides said

He also said that at this time, the project is a long way from being done.

"I ask that everyone come out to the meeting from 5-9 p.m. Feb. 5 at the Kimbro Center," he said.

Property owner Ronald Richards said he has concerns as a new resident of Madison County.

"TCR has been less that upfront with landowners telling us they have eminent domain, when they don't," he said. "I have worked my entire life and retired in my early 70s from the rat race to enjoy the peace and quiet of Madison County. The HSR will have an enormous impact on my family."

Richards also criticized the study, saying it's 5,000 pages and hard to understand.

"This is about property rights for landowners," he said. "If you allow TCR to continue this project, what will you do when they want to come through your living room? People elected you to speak on their behalf, and to protect their property rights."

Richards also said that based on his research, the railway could shut down county roads, leaving the county liable to construct new roadways.

No action was taken, nor comments made by commissioners.

In other business, the commissioners:

oapproved an agreement with Brazos County Rape Crisis Center; and

oapproved a lot split for the family of Linda Klentz.