Texans Against High Speed Rail requesting impact statements
The group Texans Against High Speed Rail sent an email to property owners who could be impacted by the proposed high speed rail. They're asking that land owners participate in a public comment period by expressing how they could be impacted. They'd also like to hear how endangered species may be affected.
Dr. Christian Brannstrom, a professor at Texas A&M University says it's a normal request for projects this size.
"We have a pretty strong federal statute called the Endangered Species Act. If species are found in the area that the project is going to be built, that could trigger a fairly lengthy and costly set of studies that could slow down the project," said Brannstrom.
KBTX asked Texans Against High Speed Rail why they're requesting the information. They replied with the following statement: "Texans Against High-Speed Rail has requested landowner impact statements to include in our official response to the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). These impact statements are also helping identify serious gaps and inconsistencies with the DEIS. As an example, the original scoping report from the FRA included a comprehensive list of endangered and protected flora and fauna potentially impacted by this proposed HSR project, yet the DEIS only focused on a very small portion of that list. We are confident that with landowner input our response will require the FRA and Texas Central Partners to address many more issues before proceeding with this project, if possible at all."
Texas Central insisted this is not true, and from Dr. Brannstroms perspective, he agrees.
"If complex democracies like Japan, France, and Germany have figured out how to have high speed rail compatible with other land uses, I think we can have that here, too," said Brannstrom.
Texas Central pointed us back to the environmental impact statement produced by the government. They say all the issues have been reviewed without finding any adverse affects.