Cypress residents voice concerns over high-speed rail projectCypress residents voiced concerns regarding cost, noise abatement, environmental effects and the feasibility of projected routes by the proposed Houston to Dallas high-speed rail project at an open house meeting April 23 at Tin Hall in Cypress.

The session was intended to answer questions and elicit feedback from members of the community and was one in a series of forums hosted throughout the state by Texas Central Railway, the builder and operator of the proposed high-speed rail service.

The Federal Railroad Administration narrowed a more extensive list of proposed routes for the 240-mile high-speed rail project to two possible routes last fall. The routes include the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line and the TCR’s preferred corridor, which is a utility corridor which will travel near Hwy. 290 in Harris County. Riders would be dropped off and picked up at stations near downtown Dallas and Houston, but a station in Hockley is being considered, TCR president Robert Eckels said.

Although officials have publicly stated on multiple occasions the multibillion dollar rail project will be privately funded and will not utilize any public money, some Cypress residents questioned the feasibility of the plans.

“This is a private company,” resident Lynn Hardouin said. “There are supposedly no tax dollars, federal or state funding going into this project. Where is my leverage if I am unhappy?”

TCR officials said the system will become a significant taxpayer to the state, with substantial revenue benefiting local counties, school districts, hospitals and other public entities. TCR Program Director Shaun McCabe said he has heard from many people who are concerned taxpayers could end up on the hook for the project, which is not true.

Despite the company’s assurances, Cypress resident Rita Hawkins said she had reservations about the
project’s cost.
“It might be a good project for the city, but we don’t know how close they are going to stick with what they are saying,” she said. “Once all the dust clears, what will be the result?”

TCR officials also said work is ongoing with environmental and other studies which the FRA is reviewing. A final environmental impact study draft is not expected to be complete until the end of the year or by
early 2016.