Texas Central to ramp up land acquisitions along train route


The proposed high-speed train that will connect Houston to Dallas still needs to acquire 70 percent of the land parcels needed to support route development, said David Hagy, Texas Central’s regional VP of External Affairs. However, acquisitions are expected to ramp up in the near future, he said.

The planned train route passes through multiple counties, including Harris, Grimes, Leon and Navarro, and includes a section west of Hwy. 290 just outside of Spring and Klein.

Texas Central has secured roughly 30 percent of the land estimated to be needed for the entire project, Hagy said at a Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce luncheon Feb. 14. That number has not changed since February 2017, when the company first announced it had contracts for about 30 percent of land parcels.

After purchasing land “pretty aggressively,” Hagy said land acquisitions slowed to a standstill because a preferred route for the high-speed train had not yet been established.

“We bought about 30 percent of the property, then we slowed down,” he said. “We got our preferred route last year, so we are actively buying now.”

Most of the land parcels that have been purchased are in Grimes and Waller counties because the route was almost certain to run through those areas, he said.

Hagy said all land purchases have been made voluntarily without using eminent domain, which gives agencies the right to seize private property, with compensation, for public use.

However, Texas Central’s authority to use eminent domain centers on its status as a railroad company that is recognized by the state—which appears to be up for contention.

The company’s website states it is incorporated as a railroad with the Texas secretary of state. But on Feb. 11, a judge in Leon County ruled that Texas Central is not a railroad or interurban electric rail and does not have eminent domain authority, according to a news release by Texans Against High Speed Rail, an advocacy group.

“This is just one example of the continued lies Texas Central ‘Railway’ has promulgated,” the group said in a statement.

Hagy said Texas Central will file an appeal for the Leon County decision.

“We are very confident we have the right of eminent domain,” he said.

Texas Central recently made further progress on the project by naming Resource Environmental Solutions as its environmental partner Feb. 4. RES will manage green infrastructure projects along the project’s route, including selecting mitigation sites that collectively improve the ecological functions of broad areas, such as near Spring and Cypress creeks, the Texas Central news release stated.

Additionally, Texas Central announced on Feb. 21 it had selected Citi and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group as financial advisers for the privately funded project to assist with securing funding.

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  1. Christie parker

    You should ask them what is the percentage of route that they actually have under option contract. They do not have 30% of actual land needed but under 20%. They gave this information to Rep Bailes who wouldn’t take the parcels percentage because that is a meaningless figure as a lot parcel is weighted the same as a 5,000 acre parcel. This group still has under 20% of the route under option contract meaning there is well over 80% of the route they don’t have. They do not have eminent domain and a Harris County judge also ruled they don’t have ED nor that they are a railroad in the Calvin House case. Any judge that has heard actual arguments have ruled this company is not a railroad. You can’t just form a company and call yourself a railroad and a few days later say you have eminent domain and can condemn people’s property. That is exactly what this company did.

  2. Ryan Torregrosa

    Actually, to counter the above comment. There has only been one ruling against TCR (The Leon County Judge). Judge Emmit in Harris County ruled that it was a railroad. All other “rulings against” were simply judges agreeing that it should proceed to trial.

    Stop trying to hold up a massive infrastructure project because of the wants of a few dozen people. Billions of dollars are on the line here. This is considered one of the largest infrastructure projects on the planet and its not being funded by tax dollars.

    • You do know that was a default judgement ? Which with 5 bucks you might be able to buy a cup of coffee.

      Since NO HSR has ever been in the black that started with zero the odds of this is not good. SO the route is crap due to being 30 minutes away from CS. Not tying into other local mass tranist hubs. Cost has almost doubled but no issues still cash flows LOL

      You do know Japan owns an equity stake in the project right? not just the 300 mil “loan” to a company with zero revenue and no assets to speak of. In this country we call that venture capital which usually leads to more equity.

    • Donovan Maretick

      I am not quite sure where you are getting your ” few dozen people” figure from. There are 100’s of hard working families being threatened by this project including myself. Texas Central is looking for close to 8000 acres of land in right away and another 4000 acres for lay down utility areas. If you went to any of the FRA hearing’s you would have heard from the 100’s at each meeting that spoke about being bullied and harassed by this Japanese Funded Project. It is public knowledge that they have raised less than 2% of the funds needed. The majority of the funds are Japanese Public Funds so not quite sure how you could call the project private.
      I am a veteran and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and I can tell you that it disgusts me that a foreign owned private company is trying to seize US Land to make a profit. As a land owner, I would think that I would at least have the right to view the ridership calculations and see if it is financially feasible, but when it comes to transparency they hide behind proprietorship but continue to try to yield the sword of condemnation.

    • Christie parker

      The summary judgement I was referring to ruled that they did not prove they were a railroad nor had eminent domain nor could survey the property like a bona fide railroad would be able to do. Did you read the court documents? The judge denied them entirely and Texas Central asked to be a railroad company defined by Sect 81.002 of the Transportation code, an interurban electric railroad as defined by Section 131.011 A real railroad would have NEVER lost a summary judgement for a survey and have to proceed to full trial. You know that Texas Central did not proceed to full trial right.

      Like I said before the released DEFAULT judgement was signed by a judge who had not heard any merits of the case nor any arguments for or against it being a railroad. Nothing was heard only evidence submitted regarding the tax records of the property and documents showing the individual had been supposedly served. That’s it. Nothing about it being a railroad. The documents are at the Harris County site still to this date. https://www.hcdistrictclerk.com/Common/Default.aspx Search plaintiff Texas Central and you can see all the cases. The judge was not Emmit as you stated. The judge was STEVEN KIRKLAND.

      The Ellis county court rulings were a little different than the Harris County summary judgement as it did not have the railroad or eminent domain status as was in the Harris County ruling. They did rule that they didn’t prove their case and would have to proceed to trial. Again I haven’t heard of a real railroad ever being denied a survey and having to go to trial as their evidence for being a railroad was so weak. Have you?

      There are actually many thousands against the project. Hundreds have been traveling to the capital and to the FRA meetings to oppose the project. I have only seen a handful of those for the project. This is a want and not a need. Why are only a few showing up in support of the project when so many are showing up opposed?

      I agree billions are on the line. It is estimated that this project will lose more than 500 million a year so who is going to pay for that. They need to stop begging for my federal tax dollars in the form of loans which would never be paid back and just go in the pockets of these developers and to Japan.

      This paper did an article about the Dunaham development that is in the process currently. That project will infuse many millions in this community. Check how this train is proposed to kill that development project. Similar circumstances are occurring up and down the route. Don’t just look at one side and believe all the hype they are blasting out. Most of it isn’t true just like Hagy saying they already have their preferred route when that won’t be out until the ROD is released per the FRA.

  3. Hooray!!! Build this thing already. 2 of the biggest metropolitan areas in the nation have no high speed rail connection?? We are talking about tens of millions of people in these areas.

    I wish they would build more. What about Dallas to San Antonio with stops at temple, Austin, and new braunfels?

    Anyways, I know this is just a start but I hope this leads to much more HSR in Texas.

  4. Gene Tautenhaun

    Finally. Im sick and tired of them draggin their feet on this project. I’m sorry to sound like this but the people that are trying to prevent this are the exact same people who tried to stop the I-45 highway project in the 1960s. Now, those same people love the interstate highway system.

    This is how progress works. Bigger highways are NOT the answer and it takes a very short-sighted person to believe that they are. This may not be the best solution but its a start and its not funded by tax payers.

    An above comment states that “thousands of people are opposed to this project” is laughable. We are talking about Houston and the Dallas-Ft. Worth areas. LOL. How many millions of people live in these cities?

    And to end, because arguing in a comments section is ridiculous. If these projects didn’t make money why are they being built all over Europe, China, and India? Get off your high horses people, it will either be built now or 20 years from now.

  5. What is taking this project so long? It was supposed to be built and operational by now. I am looking forward to this because I make this drive almost daily for work.

    Get it done already Texas Central.

  6. A billion dollar infrastructure project that is not funded by the tax payer? What else could we be hoping for? I really can’t understand the amount resistance this project is getting. It will benefit so many people.

    I think I read in one of the comments that HSR is never profitable. This is simply not true. China’s HSR is considered one of the most profitable worldwide and the European networks have been in business for years.

    I really hope that a small minority of people dont prevent whats best for Texas.

  7. No way they start construction on this project in 2019. Too many hurdles with these landowners. How that judge says this isn’t a RR is beyond me though. Clearly pandering to her electorate. Will most likely be overturned on appeal.

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Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.
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