Republican lawmakers file 18 bills against Dallas-Houston high-speed train

Republican lawmakers representing rural interests have filed 18 bills taking aim at a proposed high-speed train between Dallas and Houston.

The legislators who filed 18 different bills include state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury; state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe; state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham; state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock; state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown; state Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin; state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia; state Sen. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana; state Rep. Leighton Schubert, R-Caldwell; and state Rep. John Wray, R-Waxahachie.

Perry, Schwertner, Ashby and Schubert represent areas with little land that would be affected by the proposed train.

The group is united by rural interests that question eminent domain and high-speed rail.

"I won't stand by while good people are forced to give up their private property rights for a rail project that will bring little to no economic benefit to our region," Ashby said.

Some of the lawmakers question the financial viability of the project. The train's parent company, Texas Central, has estimated the project will cost $12 billion. Some of the lawmakers express concern toward a Texas Department of Transportation study that estimated the project could cost closer to $18 billion.

"This legislation will ensure that the property rights of our constituents are respected and guarantee that state taxpayers won't be asked to bail out this project when costs inevitably exceed projections and ridership fails to meet expectations," Schwertner said.

Members of the group have collaborated with Texans Against High-Speed Rail, an organization that opposes the project.

Bills in the package of opposition legislation include:

  • Senate Bill 973 to prohibit a high-speed rail group from entering private property to conduct a survey unless TXDOT identifies the surveyors as a railroad

  • Senate Bill 974 to void any high-speed rail contract held by a high-speed rail entity should bankruptcy be initiated by or against the entity

  • Senate Bill 975 provides a framework of security requirements to be followed during the construction period of a high-speed rail line.

  • Senate Bill 977 to prohibit the legislature from appropriating new funds or allowing state agencies to use existing funds to pay for private high-speed rail in Texas

  • Other bills include Senate Bill 978, Senate Bill 979, Senate Bill 980, Senate Bill 981, Senate Bill 982

Texas Rail Advocates responded with a statement Tuesday afternoon.

"Today's bills opposing the development of bullet trains in Texas are as unsurprising as they are disappointing," the statement said. "Adding more government bureaucracy will damage efforts to build the train infrastructure Texans want."

Texas Central issued a statement on the filed legislation Tuesday afternoon.

"Contrary to the national focus on infrastructure projects that stand to create tens of thousands of jobs and benefit millions of people, it is ironic that the proposed legislation calls for more government regulation in trying to block a free market led project that will create jobs and generate economic development," the statement said. "The effort to take away a safe, reliable and productive transportation choice runs counter to the values and principles of so many Texans who are clamoring for it."

Read up on our past coverage of Texas Central's proposed high-speed train here.


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