TEXAS CENTRAL ABANDONS LAWSUITS WHILE LANDOWNERS RENEW OPPOSITION TO HSR PROJECT
Jewett, Texas – In keeping with their corporate behavior of deflecting and redirecting, Texas Central has released a statement today via their public relations firm regarding “key milestones,” but these claims of progress are, as usual, unsubstantiated and do not reflect the nefarious corporate activity that led to these “milestones.”
Texas Central has “withdrawn” their remaining 17 of 39 lawsuits that sought immediate access to survey private property. None of the 39 cases has reached Texas Central’s desired outcome of designating the company as a railroad or granting them access to private property.
The company claimed in depositions and court proceedings as early as March and as late as November of 2016 that their project would incur imminent harm if they were not allowed immediate access to survey these properties. When District Judge Halbach saw no proof of imminent harm and ultimately denied their request to be designated as a railroad, they were “looking forward to (their) day in court.” However, in spite of no rulings in their favor and no designation as a railroad, the company has now withdrawn all these cases to presumably continue open talks with landowners, which previously included threatening letters and phone calls and bullying and trespassing by surveyors. It should be noted that if Texas Central had been committed to landowner dialogue from the beginning as they frequently claimed, landowners likely would not have had to deal with being threaten with lawsuits and eventual taking of property through eminent domain, trespassing and costly court proceeding. Their statement today makes it seem as if landowners will now engage in conversation with Texas Central simply because the lawsuits have been withdrawn. But after months of threats and bullying and court proceedings, landowners remain committed to denying access to their private property.
Company officials claim to have only 30% of the option contracts executed on necessary parcels. This doesn’t mean 30% of the land needed has been acquired, nor does it mean 30% of landowners support their project.
This claim does not demonstrate progress or support. Based on first-hand accounts from landowners, these option contracts were entered into under unsubstantiated claims of having the authority of eminent domain and the threat of legal action. With 70% of the parcels still needing to be acquired and only a tiny percentage of necessary funding, this project is nowhere near shovel-ready.
Additionally, eight counties have passed regulations making it impossible for a high-speed rail entity to receive a construction permit without proof of eminent domain. Even if all private landholdings were acquired, Texas Central is unable to complete their proposed rail line without crossing a county road, which they do not have authority to do.
Judge Ben Leman, Chairman of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, said, “The decision to withdraw these court cases is a clear indicator that Texas Central understands they will not get a ruling in one of these cases designating them as a railroad with eminent domain authority. This, in conjunction with the permit requirement from county governments, forces them to go to the state legislature for a legislative fix. We will see them at the Capitol.”
Kyle Workman, President of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, pushed back on the misdirection of Texas Central’s most recent statement. “Texas Central withdrew their lawsuits but retained the option to bring the suits back to the court at a later date. Don’t be fooled by their smoke and mirrors disguised as “key milestones.” I would not be surprised if landowners who entered into these option contracts under false pretenses now want out of their contracts. Along with all its other faults, as a monopolized Japanese rail system in negotiations with a British rail operator, this project is not needed in Texas or anywhere else in America.”