This story comes from Texas Standard.
Do anti high-speed rail efforts in the Texas legislature and in DC mean it’s an idea that’s going nowhere fast?
Aman Batheja is following the issue for the Texas Tribune.
On Who is Opposed to High-Speed Rail:
“The issue here is the rural communities between Dallas and Houston … The mayors of Dallas and Houston and a majority of the elected officials there strongly support the train project – they’re very strongly behind it. It’s the rural communities that are trying to figure out what’s in it for them.”
On Why Eminent Domain is the Core Issue:
“The company that’s building this train, they say it’s going to be completely privately funded and most of the route is going to be along a utility right-of-way – so they don’t need a lot of private land. But there are some areas where they do need private land and they do need to use eminent domain in some cases and these rural communities, the landowners there, are wondering ‘why should I give up my land for this train that’s not going to stop anywhere near me.'”
On Targeting This Use of Eminent Domain:
“In Texas, hundreds of companies have eminent domain power: pipeline companies, utility companies, some telecommunications firms and several private rail firms have eminent domain power. So this bill that’s been filed in the legislature would specifically say ‘high-speed rail trains’ cannot have eminent domain power.”
On Going to DC:
“Some state lawmakers in Texas have appealed to their federal counterparts in congress and said ‘we would like you to publicly oppose this train so that the federal government doesn’t think Texas as a whole is behind it.'”
On What’s Next:
“Right now there are about five or six bills that seem to be targeting this project and seem to be trying to either slow it down or kill it all together in the state legislature. If any of them move forward significantly, it’s going to be a major problem for this company so they’re taking it very seriously.”