WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Surface Transportation Board officially has declined a request from Texas Central Railway to be the regulatory agency for its proposed high-speed rail project.
According to a press release from U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the STB decided Monday that it will not get involved in the proposed Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail project.
Brady is leading a congressional fight, along with Texans Against High-Speed Rail.
“This is the answer we fought for,” Brady said in the release. “This is the first victory in a long battle to ensure that Texas, not Washington, decides the fate of a project hurting our rural communities and landowners.”
Kyle Workman, chairman of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, said it was a huge win for private property rights in Texas.
“We’re encouraged that Washington saw what we saw, that this project is intrastate and needed to be regulated by the State of Texas and not the federal government,” Workman said.
Monday’s decision by the STB is outside of the Board’s jurisdiction — effectively recognizing that the project is a state project, the release states.
Brady wrote the STB in April opposing any federal involvement in the highly controversial project because the sole proposed route divides rural counties in the 8th Congressional District including Grimes, Madison and Leon counties, according to the release.
“As our county commissioners, state legislators, and property owners have stated correctly, this route fractures our rural lifestyle without any direct economic or transportation benefits to our communities,” Brady said. “I truly appreciate the efforts of our state and local officials and Texans Against High-Speed Rail who are working so diligently to protect Texans’ property rights.”
Texas Central issued a statement after the Surface Transportation Board’s July 18 ruling:
“The Surface Transportation Board clarified (Monday) that it does not have jurisdiction over the Texas high-speed rail project being privately developed by Texas Central connecting North Texas and Houston, and therefore no STB approval of the project is necessary prior to commencing construction,” TC representatives stated.
Texas Central’s decision to seek clarification regarding the STB’s role followed precedent set by other rail projects, according to the statement. Without such clarification, regulatory uncertainty could have impacted Texas Central’s project timelines.
Texas Central will study the STB decision before making any determination regarding actions in response to the ruling. The project continues to move forward with development activities, the release states.