On April 19, Texas Central filed two petitions with the Surface Transportation Board — the independent federal commission that oversees railroads nationwide. These filings raise serious questions about Texas Central’s commitment to transparency and doing things “the right way.”

Texas Central is requesting an exemption from the regulations which govern the authority to construct and operate a railroad in the United States. Texas Central is also seeking a “clarification” that its project will be exempt from SB 18, the Texas landmark law limiting Eminent Domain abuse.

In the filings, Texas Central admits that it plans to take land from Texas private property owners “in locations not ultimately identified” on its final route because “its construction schedule is central to its business model.” TAHSR’s special litigation counsel Blake Beckham said, “In other words, Texas Central has no problem taking private property it does not even need for its project so long as the steady stream of funds from its Japanese partners keep flowing in. This is a clear concession that Texas Central does not have its financing in place, and yet it is asking for expedited consideration of its petitions in hopes that it can begin taking private property from Texas landowners immediately.”

TAHSR’s President Kyle Workman said, “The people of Texas fought long and hard to protect our property rights after the Kelo decision. Governor Perry and the Texas legislature worked together to enact SB18 specifically to provide Texans with protections against the abuse of Eminent Domain for private gain. TCR’s filing is an attempted end run around Texas law.”

Here are links to Texas Central’s filings with the Surface Transportation Board:

A little more on the petitions Texas Central filed with the STB…

In one of the petitions filed with the Surface Transportation Board, Texas Central references a report created by Insight Research Corporation titled “Texas Central’s High Speed Rail Corridor and Related Private Development Houston to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.” Based on this report, Texas Central claims that the high-speed train “could spur $36 billion in economic benefits, and generate nearly $2.5 billion in tax revenues to the state counties, local municipalities, school districts and other taxing entities, between 2015 and 2040.” Texas Central has bragged about these made-up claims on its website and through the press in a summary PowerPoint presentation titled “Texas Central Partners Economic Impact Report Summary.” But Texas Central won’t release the actual report itself, which should contain the objective data used to calculate all of these supposed economic benefits.

On April 21, we sent a letter to Texas Central’s attorney asking for a copy of this secret report. We don’t understand why Texas Central is hiding the report if it shows how great this project is going to be for the Texas economy.

If Texas Central is using this report in an attempt to get exemptions from federal railroad regulations, shouldn’t they have to disclose it to the public?

Here is a link to the letter we sent to Texas Central asking for the report. Texas Central has not responded to our request:

 

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