State legislators request federal officials halt activity on Texas Central's high-speed rail project

Texas Central claims the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded, and the train would transport 6 million annual riders by 2029. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Central claims the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded, and the train would transport 6 million annual riders by 2029. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)

Texas Central claims the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded, and the train would transport 6 million annual riders by 2029. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)

Dozens of elected officials representing Texas communities signed a letter April 6 requesting U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao put an end to activity related to Texas Central’s high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston.

The letter comes about a week after Texas Central officials announced they were laying off 28 employees on March 27 “in an effort to make the best use of [their] current funding” in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

State senators and representatives in the letter said they do not believe Texas Central will be able to secure adequate funding for the construction of the project any time soon.

“It has become clear Texas Central Railroad simply does not have the financial resources required or expertise employed to continue with this project,” the letter read. “To proceed otherwise would be an inexcusable waste of taxpayer dollars and jeopardizes the integrity of the rules making process at the Federal Railroad Administration.”

Signees included state Rep. Ben Leman, R-Anderson; state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia; state Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe; state Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress; state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands; state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock; state Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-College Station; state Rep. Mike Lang, R-Granbury; state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe; state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston; and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham.


U.S. Reps. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, and Ron Wright, R-Arlington, followed up with their own letter to Chao on April 8.

“We are in the midst of a public health crisis, and our taxpayer dollars should be focused on defeating our invisible enemy—and not on a private, Texas based project,” Brady said in a statement. “Texas Central has shown the bleak reality of their financial situation, and the project remains unsustainable.”

Members of the ReRoute the Route coalition advocate for the proposed high-speed rail project to be relocated to a safer and more sensible route. Spokesperson Taylor Ward thanked these legislators in a statement saying the project has funding, safety and private property concerns.


“Carlos Aguilar, President and CEO of Texas Central, has made it clear that the proposed high-speed rail is in no financial shape to move forward, especially in light of the COVID-19 crisis," Ward said. "Congressman Brady has once again championed action in favor of all Texans, and all taxpayers nationwide by asking Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to halt the federal regulations process on Texas Central’s proposed high-speed rail project."

Texas Central officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on April 8. Earlier this year, officials told Community Impact Newspaper the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded and begin later this year once they receive final approvals from federal agencies.
By Danica Smithwick
Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a Cy-Fair reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She became editor of the Cy-Fair edition in March 2020 and continues to cover education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development and nonprofits.


MOST RECENT

Under guidelines from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, day care centers, bars and entertainment venues—including bowling alleys and bingo parlors—were allowed to reopen a limited occupancy May 22. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Officials confirm 469 new cases over Memorial Day weekend

Under guidelines from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, day care centers, bars and entertainment venues—including bowling alleys and bingo parlors—were allowed to reopen a limited occupancy May 22.

The Jersey Village Community Swimming Pool will reopen May 30 under its regular operating hours after being closed since late March due to the coronavirus. (Staff photo)
Jersey Village to reopen city pool May 30

The Jersey Village Community Swimming Pool will reopen May 30 under its regular operating hours after being closed since late March due to the coronavirus.

Cy-Fair doctors see drop in patients, prompting concerns about medical issues going unaddressed

The drop in appointments is also causing long-term financial concerns for some doctors.

The local nonprofit has sewn and donated thousands of masks since the COVID-19 pandemic began. (Courtesy Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress)
Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress produces, distributes over 4,500 face masks

As of May 22, they had produced 4,524 washable masks complete with HEPA filters as an added safety measure.

Souq International Markets will open its new Katy-area location soon. (Susan Rovegno/Community Impact Newspaper)
ROUNDUP: Memorial Day business updates from the Houston area

Read some of the latest business news from the Greater Houston area on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

Houston's unemployment rate hit a record high at 14.2%, leaving more than 450,000 workers unemployed. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Greater Houston area sees record-breaking unemployment rate in April at 14.2%

The previous high for the Greater Houston area's unemployment rate was set in January 2010 at 8.7%.

Harris County homeowners who are age 65 or older or who have disabilities can expect property tax relief this year in the form of expanded property tax exemptions. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County unanimously votes to increase homestead exemptions for seniors, the disabled

Harris County homeowners who are age 65 or older or who have disabilities can expect property tax relief this year in the form of expanded property tax exemptions.

Houston ISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said she is exploring multiple options for the 2020-21 school year. (Screnshot via HISD TV)
Longer school days and more: Top stories from this week in Houston

Read the most popular stories covering the Greater Houston area from this week on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

National study predicts June coronavirus spike in Houston area

New modeling suggests Harris County's lack of social distancing compliance may spur a surge in new cases.

texas-reopening
LIST: What is open, closed in Texas and how businesses can operate

Texas openings are staggered with different opening dates and operating limits.

Texas Medical Center has seen nearly a 26% increase in COVID-19 discharges over the past few weeks. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)
Texas Medical Center reports continued week-over-week increases in COVID discharges, deaths; hospitalizations, ICU numbers remain steady

Texas Medical Center has seen nearly a 26% increase in COVID-19 discharges over the past few weeks.