Texas House committee holds hearings on high speed rail project legislation Tuesday

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 10:56 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) - The Texas House Committee on Land & Resource Management held hearings Tuesday on multiple bills that will affect the Texas Central High Speed Rail Project that will run from Houston to Dallas if completed.

The train would run through the Brazos Valley and include a station in Grimes County. The project would span through a total of ten Texas counties and is expected to be capable of operating at speeds over 200 miles per hour and move passengers between Dallas and Houston in less than 90 minutes.

Rep. Ben Leman (R-District 13) sits on the committee that held Tuesday’s hearings. He believes eminent domain is one of the most important issues facing the project’s construction.

“There truly is a lack of oversight with respect to eminent domain for high-speed rail in Texas,” Leman said. “That oversight is critical to make sure that landowner protection is there.”

House Bill 3633 would create a state agency or a department within an existing agency with the authority to regulate the use of eminent domain related to the high speed rail project.

“It is an entity that is tasked with managing the process by which entities use eminent domain, to ensure landowners are treated fairly, to ensure that there’s someone there that landowners can turn to in case bad actors do things that they’re not supposed to do,” Leman said.

Waller County Judge Trey Duhon testified in support of the bill at Tuesday’s hearing.

“I’ve seen first hand the impact a high speed rail project can have on the lives of our citizens,” Duhon said to the committee. “I’ve seen the impact it can have on property values. I’ve seen families forced to sign option contracts under duress, and threats of condemnation powers that did not exist.”

KBTX reached out to Texas Central for their take on Tuesday’s hearings. They said they have no comment at this time because they are “still in the thick of things in Austin.”

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