PRESS RELEASE March 30, 2016

OPPOSITION GROWING OUTSIDE PROPOSED HSR CORRIDOR

Heart of Texas Council of Governments Passes Resolution Opposing Dallas Houston HSR

Jewett, Texas – Joining the Brazos Valley Council of Governments, the Heart of Texas Council of Governments (HOTCOG) has also passed a resolution opposing the Dallas Houston High-Speed Rail. Counties making up the membership of HOTCOG are Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Limestone and McLennan Counties. Despite having only a very small section of the currently proposed route clip the corner of just one of the member counties, the HOTCOG overwhelmingly voted to oppose this project, highlighting that concern about this HSR project is spreading outside of areas impacted by the proposed route.

The resolution details the negative impact the proposed HSR would have on the counties between Dallas and Houston, but also the wider threats of taxpayer subsidies and precedent setting use of eminent domain that would affect all Texans.

Also emphasized in the resolution are the questionable cost and ridership estimates shared by Texas Central, the company backing the HSR project. The council even called on the state and federal governments to halt support for the project until it could be determined that only existing rights-of-way would be used for the project and no public subsidies would be made available to the private company.

Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, said, “If losing the support of one of their key markets in the Brazos Valley wasn’t enough, the mere passage of the Heart of Texas COG’s resolution should have Texas Central’s investors very nervous. This has been a statewide issue from the very start, but now we see official opposition to the project growing throughout the state in spite of the rail’s proposed route location. This isn’t just an issue of taking specific properties for their proposed HSR, but one of property rights and taxpayer subsidies that impact the entirety of our State.”

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PRESS RELEASE March 17, 2016

TAHSR LAND DEFENSE FUND FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST TEXAS CENTRAL RAILWAY AFFILIATE TO CHALLENGE SURVEY PERMISSION FORM

Texas Central Survey Permission Form Seeks Unlimited, Indefinite Access to Private Property

Jewett, Texas – The TAHSR Land Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jim Miles, a Leon County resident, against Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure (TCRI), an affiliate of Texas Central Railway (TCR), to challenge an exceptionally broad “survey permission form” that landowners along the proposed route of the Dallas Houston HSR are being asked to sign. The lawsuit, filed in the 87th District Court in Leon County, asks the Court to declare that the survey form exceeds the scope of survey activities allowable under Texas law.

Through the survey form, TCRI seeks permission to enter private property to conduct a series of surveys and invasive activities, like drillings and soil borings. The form is virtually unlimited in scope and duration, and would allow TCRI access to private property to performany activity it wanted to for an unspecified period of time. In addition, the form extends permission not only to TCRI but also to an unlimited number of unnamed persons, affiliates, and entities. As a result, TCRI had the right to extend its permission to anyone simply by claiming they are somehow affiliated with the Dallas Houston HSR.

The survey form is even more problematic given that TCRI still has not identified whether it is claiming eminent domain authority as a railroad, an electric railway, or some other entity. Likewise, the form does not identify any statute or authority that would allow TCRI to enter private property for any purpose, let alone to perform a variety of invasive surveys and other procedures.

Kyle Workman, president of TAHSR, said, “Despite claims of transparency and a commitment to work with landowners, no Texas Central official or affiliate has ever been able to provide the exact statute or evidence that their project is eligible for or has the authority of a railroad company. And although they have testified before our State Legislature that they have this authority, they are still unwilling to show proof. By TAHSR Land Defense Fund supporting this lawsuit, we are hoping to protect all the landowners who received this permission form, as well as the fundamental private property rights that would be trampled by the unlimited allowances of this survey permission form.”

Blake Beckham, TAHSR special litigation counsel and attorney for Jim Miles, stated, “We are confident that the survey form goes well beyond what Texas law allows. TCR and its affiliates should be immediately stopped from conducting any surveys until they explain to the court and to landowners why they believe they have authority to enter private property. This is yet another example of TCR withholding information from landowners whose property they intend to take. If TCR wants to take surveys, they must comply with the strict limits set forth under Texas law.”

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PRESS RELEASE March 11, 2016

DESPITE PLANNED HSR STATION, BRAZOS VALLEY OPPOSES
DALLAS HOUSTON HSR PROJECT

Brazos Valley Council of Governments Passes Resolution Opposing Proposed Dallas Houston High-Speed Rail

Jewett, Texas – Despite increasingly heavy courting by Texas Central Partners (TCP) over the past two years and a planned station to service the area, Brazos Valley opposition to the proposed Dallas Houston High-Speed Rail was made official through a resolution passed by the Brazos Valley Council of Governments (BVCOG). After an hour long discussion among BVCOG members in which TCP representatives were included, the resolution to oppose the project passed overwhelmingly Wednesday, March 9, which is a solid blow to the company’s claim of strong support in the Brazos Valley because of its purported station to service the area.

The Brazos Valley Council of Governments Board is made up of five voting members from each of the seven member counties, including Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson and Washington Counties. The BVCOG, which is the regional planning commission officially sanctioned by the governor of Texas, previously voted in support of the HSR project in concept in March 2014. However, since then, the glaring reality of lack of public information about ridership and new information that eminent domain would be used to acquire property, has led the body to oppose the project, in spite of a planned station to service the area. The council expressed their concern about this private project not meeting the threshold of public benefit that historically justifies the use of eminent domain, citing lack of public need. The resolution emphasized the vast opposition within and outside the Brazos Valley region including counties, cities, towns, state legislators and the Texas A&M student body.

Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, said, “We appreciate the work of BVCOG to critically review this project and oppose it for all the negatives it can bring to their area and our State, and, importantly, despite the marketing ploy by TCP to entice support by a proposing a station in their area. The Brazos Valley COG has sent a strong message to the Japanese investors that one of the main target markets for this project absolutely does not support it.”

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PRESS RELEASE March 3, 2016

TAHSR Sues Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and TxDOT

Jewett, Texas – Texans Against High-Speed Rail (TAHSR) has filed a lawsuit against Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) seeking information being withheld from the public about the proposed Dallas Houston High-Speed Rail (HSR). In a clear effort to withhold critical information from the public, Texas Central Railway (TCR) and TxDOT executed a non-disclosure agreement on October 12, 2014, which says that any and all information shared by TCR to TxDOT should be kept confidential from the public. As a result, responses to requests for records made through the Texas Public Information Act have been heavily redacted and are obviously incomplete.

Kyle Workman, president of TAHSR, said, “As property owners and taxpayers, we are entitled to information about a project intending to use eminent domain to take our property and eventually our tax dollars. We are challenging the Attorney General’s decision so the citizens of Texas can have full access to information that is lawfully theirs. Through every available option, Texans Against High-Speed Rail is committed to ensuring an open and honest discussion about the realities of this HSR project.”

TAHSR properly requested information regarding the Dallas Houston HSR from TxDOT on March 20, 2015. Instead of producing what should clearly have been public, TxDOT requested a decision from the Attorney General’s office on withholding a significant amount of documents. Immediately thereafter, TCR sent a letter attempting to influence the Attorney General to allow TxDOT to withhold documents provided by TCR to TxDOT. TCR concealed the basis of its supposed legal arguments by redacting virtually the entire argument in the copy of such letter provided to TAHSR. TCR’s calculated actions seek to eliminate a Texas Public Information Act challenge by concealing which categories of documents were wrongfully withheld.

On July 23, 2015, the Attorney General issued his decision allowing TxDOT to withhold information from the public about the proposed Dallas Houston HSR. TAHSR is compelled to take action to challenge the Attorney General’s decision and gain access to all the information about the Dallas Houston HSR so that this private project receives the proper public scrutiny it deserves, especially given TCR’s plan is to use eminent domain, one of the strongest authorities of the state.

Blake Beckham, special litigation counsel for TAHSR, said, “TCR has repeatedly claimed they are transparent; in truth, TCR is cloaked in secrecy. TCR wrongfully entered into a non-disclosure agreement with a state agency in an effort to conceal public information of great importance. Then, TCR sent a letter to the Attorney General asking him to bless TxDOT’s refusal to disclose TCR’s documents to the public, but TCR blacked out all of its legal arguments before sending the letter to TAHSR. By using secret legal arguments to conceal secret agreements which hide public documents, TCR is using star chamber tactics to conceal vital public records related to the proposed Dallas Houston HSR. In another eminent domain setting, Gov. Greg Abbott said the Government still respects private property rights and should end unconscionable land grabs. Unfortunately, our Attorney General has supported TCR’s efforts to conceal public information in this attempted land grab. As a result, we are exercising our right under the Texas Public Information Act to seek an impartial ruling from an impartial court, free from TCR’s influence.”

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