Waller County officials say Texas Central Railroad is not maintaining properties owned

It’s not hard to notice the condition of nearly a dozen of homes and properties that Waller County Judge Trey Duhon says have a negative impact on the community.
Published: Oct. 30, 2022 at 8:36 PM CDT
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WALLER, Texas (KBTX) - Adjacent to a row of transmission lines sits a quiet street named Plantation Drive near Saddle Creek Forest in Waller County.

It’s not hard to notice the condition of nearly a dozen of homes and properties in that neighborhood that Waller County Judge Trey Duhon says have a negative impact on the community.

While properties on one side of Plantation Drive are thriving that’s not the case for houses on the other side of the street primarily owned by Texas Central Railroad.

“They haven’t been maintained, they’re falling apart, broken windows, broken doors, weeds, grass growing up,” said Duhon. “It’s becoming places for drugs, rats. I mean it’s just, it’s disgusting, to be honest.”

“It’s sad that a company like Texas Central, who touts themselves to be good neighbors, has purchased these properties and just decides not to maintain them or do anything to keep them in good shape and good condition,” said Duhon.

He says the condition of the abandoned properties makes it difficult for homeowners to take pride in their community.

When Duhon provided us with a tour of the neighborhood, we saw spray-painted graffiti on the abandoned homes that include racial slurs and obscene drawings.

“We have people here that live in this neighborhood that have to look at this every day. They have to deal with probably loss and property value because they’re next to an eyesore,” Duhon said. “The people around here that have been living under this cloud for years, the people that are right next to the high-speed railroad that doesn’t know whether or not it’s going to go through, they deserve to know whether or not this project’s going happen.”

What’s next for Texas Central and the railroad remains to be seen by the public. Requests from KBTX to Texas Central have gone unanswered. Earlier this week Texas Central made its first Twitter post in nearly four months as they celebrated a trip to Japan with the Mayor and other officials from Houston.

Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner also took to social media to celebrate the trip and show his support for the project.

“Many of us were very supportive of the high-speed train before we came here, and what we have seen has reinforced our position. In Texas, it can be transformational and an economic stimulant for the entire state. It is an idea whose time has come for Texas and the United States. It would help improve transportation and mobility, and if people could ride it now, they would be convinced of the benefits for their families and the business community,” said Mayor Turner. “We had some very productive and constructive discussions about the train in Japan. The leadership in Houston is very supportive and wants it to happen. I look forward to working with Texas Central and our state and federal partners to advance this project. If you build it, people will take full advantage of it.”

Duhon questions the motive for the trip and says that it’s all just marketing tactics by Texas Central.

“To in effect, try to mislead the public that the high-speed rail project is on track and it’s gonna get built and it’s gonna be exciting for the area. This is the reality,” Duhon said. “This is what is actually happening on the ground. It’s been long enough. It’s been over eight years. If it’s not gonna get built, let them {property owners} go on with their lives.”

“To see somebody come around with complete disregard for property rights like what you see behind me that’s not something we tolerate in Waller County,” said Duhon.

Judge Duhon says the county is in the process of beginning nuisance proceedings on all of the properties to see to it that issues are remedied and will assess fees and costs against Texas Central.

The full press release from the Houston Mayor’s office is below.