Texans Against High Speed Rail suing state agencies for release of documents

Published: Mar. 31, 2017 at 6:09 PM CDT
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A battle is brewing in Austin over a study about a proposed high speed rail project that could connect Houston to Dallas.

The anti-bullet train group called Texans Against High Speed Rail is seeking the full release of Texas Central Railway's feasibility study.

Many details of the study submitted to the Texas Department of Transportation are not being released to the public.

The railroad says some information needs to stay private.

Signs protesting the high speed train can be seen on properties and pickup trucks in Grimes County including Roy Johnson's place near Iola.

"Show us the proof, you know show us the data that you're going to get five million riders to make this thing to justify it they are so far off," said Johnson. His property is a few miles west of the proposed train route.

He's also a member of Texans Against High Speed Rail.

"Grimes County is a unique deal because we're being promised a station a mid-stop station. If this thing fails who will come in and rescue this with the tax burden that's being promised to be paid to us. That affects everyone," he added.

When the opposition group requested a copy of the survey, it was heavily redacted.

Now, Texans Against High Speed Rail is moving forward with a lawsuit to get the full study released.

"We filed that lawsuit with the logic being since they're using eminent domain and since they're going after taxpayer-backed money, they should disclose this to the public," said Leman.

Texas Central told us they should be given protections like other private businesses .

They released the following statement:

“Texas Central is committed to transparency and openness, and it has been collaborating closely with regulators, including those now conducting an environmental impact study. With the project moving forward, some details are subject to refinement as the train enters its design, engineering and operations phases. Also, Texas has long been discussed as an ideal market for high-speed passenger rail. As a result, the Texas Central project is being developed in a competitive environment and must keep certain proprietary information confidential.”

Texas Central also says the company will not take state or federal grants for its operations.

The railroad says they will be eligible to apply for federal loans to finance debt for the project including the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).

Judge Leman says a date has not been set in Austin, but expects it will happen soon.

We also reached out to TxDOT and the Attorney General.

They told us it's their policy not to comment on pending litigation.