CENTERVILLE — Leon County Judge Deborah Evans issued a ruling on Monday stating that Texas Central, the firm behind a proposed high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston, was not a railway, and …
CENTERVILLE — Leon County Judge Deborah Evans issued a ruling on Monday stating that Texas Central, the firm behind a proposed high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston, was not a railway, and therefore did not have eminent domain authority.
According to a release from Texans Against High-Speed Rail, two landowners in Leon County, Jim and Barbara Miles, along with TASHR attorneys and other interested parties, sued TC and intervenor Integrated Texas Logistics.
According to the release, Texas Central’s high-speed rail project is in serious jeopardy after Evans ruled their project is not entitled to the rights and authorities of railroads or interurban electric rail, including eminent domain authority.
However, Texas Central officials disagree with the judge’s decision and plan to appeal.
According to a release from TC, the company is confident that the laws of Texas irrefutably give their project authority to access and survey private land to help determine the high-speed train’s most advantageous route between Houston and North Texas.
“Contrary to what others have said, a judge in Harris County previously declared that Texas Central is a bona fide railroad company, affirming its rights under state law to conduct surveys on private property to help determine the train’s most advantageous route between North Texas and Houston,” the release states. “That order held that Texas Central is a ‘railroad company’ as defined in Section 81.002 of the Texas Transportation Code and an ‘interurban electric railway’ as set forth in Section 131.011. In this instance, Texas Central completed the survey work and subsequently withdrew the legal action.”
Blake Beckham, a Dallas attorney representing the Miles family, said in a taped press conference that the judge’s ruling was the first definitive statement that TC has no authority.
“This project cannot be finished without eminent domain,” Beckham said at the conference. “This project is finished.”
In contrast, though, Texas Central is moving forward on all aspects of this project, continuing conversations with property owners in Leon County and elsewhere who are signing onto the company’s land purchase program, the company states.
Texas Central also is working without interruption on its construction planning and with its financial, engineering and business partners and with the Federal Railroad Administration on completing its environmental review of the project, the release states.
Texas has long allowed survey access by railroads like Texas Central, pipelines, electrical lines and other industries that provide for a public good and a strong economy, the TC release states.
Kyle Workman, president of TAHSR, said during a Monday press conference that anywhere TC has been challenged, they have been rejected by the courts, and that the laws of Texas do not give Texas Central the authority to condemn property or to survey private land without consent.
“We stand ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court,” Workman said.