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Mr. Edward E. Minze, President
Freestone County Farm Bureau
PO Box 400
Fairfield, TX 75840-0007
Re: Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail
Dear Mr. Minze,
As a member of the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB), I am writing to you today to respectfully ask you to support efforts to oppose the Dallas Houston High-Speed Rail project currently proposed by Texas Central Railway (TCR). Knowing how strongly the Texas Farm Bureau backed farmers and ranchers the last time our land was targeted by a high-speed rail project, I feel confident that you will either request the TFB re-evaluate the extent to which this current proposal violates the existing policy on high-speed rail OR request a policy change to address more specifically the devastating impacts this project will have on farmers and ranchers.
The current TFB policy states: “High speed rail transportation should be studied and if determined to be feasible should be pursued using existing rail and highway rights-of-way. and; High speed rail construction in new rights-of-way should not limit access to private property.”
Texas Central Railway, who has yet to share feasibility studies with the public, has already determined that the use of the I-45 right-of-way would not be possible for this project due to cost. Also, the company has publicly stated that the proposed HSR will run ALONG, existing rights-of-way, NOT with-in and only where possible, for the entirety of the railway. Access to private property would certainly be limited by a 16’+ earthen berm with security fencing on top. Even with occasional pass-throughs, the natural flow of wildlife, water and livestock would be hindered.
Please consider the following concerns, which are a few among many I have about the Dallas Houston HSR project:
a. Bisecting agricultural land(s) and creating access problems for farmers and ranchers
Since the high security fence on either side of the double tracked high-speed railway on an enormous earthen berm represents an excessive obstruction on farms and ranches of any size, the diminished access and increased time to tend crops and livestock decreases productivity and increases cost for the producer. Some landowners have been promised that underpasses will be created or the tracks will be elevated for sections to allow for access, but no specific numbers of access points or distance between access points have been formalized. TCR officials have also stated that some smaller tracts that are worth less than the cost to construct an elevated section or underpass will be bought out by Texas Central Railway to save the railway money.
b. Decreasing property values
Unlike a transmission line or pipeline where the land can still be in production for crops and livestock, the major intrusion of a high-speed railway easement will decrease the amount of land available for production, as well as decrease the value of the remainder of the farm or ranch and surrounding properties.
c. Increased costs to farmers and ranchers, and eventually consumers
With access issues creating increased labor, fuel costs and equipment hours, these additional expenses will decrease profit for farmers and ranchers leading to increased prices for consumers. We must preserve agricultural lands as such in order to maintain manageable prices at market. Also, the construction of the railway will certainly take much more land than the easement they intend to purchase or condemn, which will take more land out of production during the construction phase and cost farmers and ranchers precious time, labor and money to restore their land to its intended use.
According to the TCR president, they selected their proposed routes based on the reduced costs of using flat, rural land to construct this high-speed railway. Clearly, value of agricultural lands and the needs of our state, including the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers like myself, are not being taken into consideration.
The Texas Farm Bureau has been a leader in protecting our state’s agricultural lands. Please help us, as quickly as possible, in making these concerns and our value to our state at the forefront of this issue. Whether it be through re-evaluating the current HSR project’s violation of TFB policy or urging HSR policy change, please help us and be our voice.