Texas high-speed rail construction could move forward following agreement between Texas Central, Mass. Electric Construction Co.

Texas Central and Mass. Electric Constructon Co. announced an Early Contract Involvement agreement for construction of the Texas high-speed rail connecting Houston and Dallas. (Courtesy Texas Central)
Texas Central and Mass. Electric Constructon Co. announced an Early Contract Involvement agreement for construction of the Texas high-speed rail connecting Houston and Dallas. (Courtesy Texas Central)

Texas Central and Mass. Electric Constructon Co. announced an Early Contract Involvement agreement for construction of the Texas high-speed rail connecting Houston and Dallas. (Courtesy Texas Central)

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional comments from the organization Re-Route the Route and Texas Central.

Residents in the Houston and Dallas areas could see construction on the Texas high-speed rail—which is planned to connect Houston and Dallas—next year following an agreement between high-speed rail developer Texas Central and Mass. Electric Construction Co., a train system installation firm, according to a Nov. 21 press release.

Texas Central and Mass. Electric on Nov. 21 announced the two entities' Early Contract Involvement agreement, which covers work through the end of 2019 to define the scope, execution plan, schedule and price for a construction contract, according to the release. A construction contract is expected to be signed before the end of the year, with construction beginning in 2020, the release said.

Mass. Electric Construction Co., a subsidiary of construction engineering company Kiewit Corp., will focus on installing the core system and safety elements of the high-speed rail, including all necessary power, signaling and communications equipment, the release said. The core system is a "key component" of the Central Japan Railway's Tokaido Shinkansen technology being used for the high-speed rail, according to the release.

"The Shinkansen total system approach has created performance unparalleled in the industry, having transported over 10 billion people safely," Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in the release. "Marrying the experience of Mass. Electric with the dedication to safety of an integrated system brings the project one step closer to construction and operation."


Mass. Electric has worked on several transportation projects across the nation, including phase two of the Houston Light Rail System, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit green line light rail, and Union Station in Denver, Colorado, according to the release.

“This project draws on our extensive experience in delivering high-quality rail systems safely and effectively,” Mass. Electric Project Director Mark Williams said in the release. “We are excited to play a key role in the nation’s first high-speed train project.”

In addition, the Federal Railroad Administration granted the Rule of Particular Applicability—or RPA, which is a regulation that applies to a specific railroad or a specific type of operation to ensure safety—to Texas Central on Sept. 4, one of two FRA actions needed to pursue construction on the project, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.


However, Taylor Ward, a spokesperson for the organization Re-Route the Route—a coalition of business owners, transportation experts and Texas residents advocating for the proposed route to be located in a "more sensible area"—said in an email that Texas Central has yet to secure any of the necessary approvals and permits from the FRA, the Surface Transportation Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"
There is no guarantee the proposed project will come to fruition even if the necessary federal approvals are secured, some of which depend on the company acquiring all of the necessary land from Texas businesses and property owners," Ward said in an emailed statement. "Texas Central may try to tout this as a step forward in their process, but there is no forward momentum on the proposed high-speed train."

Despite these claims, Texas Central spokesperson Caroline Jennings said in an email that having the ECI agreement in place is still another step toward getting the project ready for construction once federal approvals are received.

"Texas Central continues to be on track with our timeline, which is directly tied to the [FRA's] regulatory process. While Texas Central is unable to control the pace of bureaucracy, the project continues to move forward with refining design, cost and timelines for full construction," she said in an email. "Once the federal approvals are in place, Texas Central is eager to break ground as early as 2020 which would lead to commercial service as soon as 2026."
By Kara McIntyre
Kara started with Community Impact Newspaper as the summer intern for the south Houston office in June 2018 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She became the reporter for north Houston's Tomball/Magnolia edition in September 2018, moving to Alpharetta in January 2020 after a promotion to be the editor of the Alpharetta/Milton edition, which is Community Impact's first market in Georgia.


MOST RECENT

Magnolia's First Baptist Church will host its annual pumpkin patch, featuring food and other activities, such as hay rides, "punkin' chunkin'" and photo opportunities. (Courtesy Magnolia's First Baptist Church)
Fall fun: 8 pumpkin patches to visit in North Houston

From photo opportunities to hayrides, here are a few places to put on your list this fall.

(Courtesy NewQuest Properties)
Shogun Japanese Grill and Sushi Bar opens in Spring and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Over 146,00 county residents had cast ballots as of Oct. 22. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
See where turnout stands at Montgomery County's polling places after 9 days of early voting

From Willis to The Woodlands, thousands of county residents have turned out to vote each day since early voting began Oct. 13.

An election official directs a car to a spot at the Humble Civic Center's drive-thru voting location. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Supreme Court rules Harris County drive-thru, curbside voting can continue

More than 98,000 ballots cast at drive-thru polling sites across Harris County will be counted in the Nov. 3 election.

Up to 40,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas members could be impacted if a contract agreement cannot be reached. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
CHI St. Luke's Hospital faces potential contract termination with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas at multiple Houston, Southeast Texas locations

If an agreement cannot be reached, up to 40,000 Houstonians could find their local hospital is out of network for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.

Children of all ages are encouraged to dress up and collect candy from decorated trunks in a Halloween trunk or treat event hosted by Medella Urgent Care–Magnolia on Oct. 31. (Courtesy Medella Urgent Care-Magnolia)
15 spooky, fall and holiday events to attend in Tomball, Magnolia through mid-November

Mark your calendar! It's a busy fall in Tomball and Magnolia with several events to choose from.

Oct. 23 is the last day Texas voters can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot. (Courtesy Pexels)
Tackling Texas' vote-by-mail system: Applying, delivering, tracking your ballot

Oct. 23 is the last day Texas voters can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot.

The Tomball VFW Post 2427 is located on Alice Road. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
Despite 80-year legacy, COVID-19 could be last straw for VFW Post 2427

“We’ve become a cornerstone of the community,” said Stephen Biehl, commander of the Texas VFW District 4, which includes the Tomball post. “This building has been here since 1973. The post has been here since 1940. We’re a piece of Tomball [and] the Tomball area.”

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at Juergen's Hall Community Center in Cy-Fair. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County’s early-voting turnout up 23% over same time frame in 2016 general election

The five busiest polling locations in Harris County have averaged more than 1,700 in-person voters daily thus far during early voting.

The Tomball Lions Club will host its 26th annual Car Show Fundraiser at Tomball High School on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Courtesy Tomball Lions Club)
Diaper drive-thru, barbecue and more: Things to do this weekend in Tomball, Magnolia

The Tomball Pregnancy Center, Tomball Lions Club and Texans United for Freedom—among others—will host events this weekend.

Target has built out its new store at 2075 Westheimer Road, Houston. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Target to open fourth Inner Loop location and more Houston-area business, community news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

(Courtesy GenuWine Tasting Room)
GenuWine Tasting Room announces closure after 10 years

Operations at GenuWine Tasting Room will continue until Oct. 24.