Who owns the land promised to the high speed rail?

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GRIMES COUNTY, Tex. (KBTX) - It's been about 2 years since Texas central announced plans to build a high speed rail through Texas.

In that time, the company has secured agreements for over half of the land between the cities, cutting right through the Brazos Valley. But who owns those plots?

There's almost 250 miles separating Dallas from Houston, and Texas Central hopes to close that gap with a high speed rail, but first they need to acquire the land. The proposed route cuts right through Grimes County.

Of the lots they've acquired, only 25 percent of the property owners have a primary residence in the county. Commissioner David Dobyanski says it doesn't matter who owns the land, he doesn't want to see built.

"They are looking at the project as being viable but I don't think it ever will be," said Dobyanski.

A large portion of the landowners live in the Houston area, and he says people who don't live in the county don't realize what it will do for the community.

"When I started talking to them, they were excited about the project. He said he'd use it to commute. But then after I explained that they're going through open country and taking ranchers land that have had that land for hundreds of years their attitude changed about it," said Dobyanski.

The Bluebonnet Country subdivision in Navasota has dozens of lots promised to Texas Central. The idea of having a high speed rail basically coming right through the neighborhood isn't such a bad idea for some people.

Kathy McHenry lives about a mile from the proposed route of the rail. She doesn't mind that most of the people who agreed to sell their land aren't her neighbors.

"Those people that don't live here it's not really going to affect them, they're probably just thinking lets sell the land and move forward. It's not going to bother us. But for some of us living here, some people I know that it's not something they like that it'll split their land or whatever. But I think in the long run in the big scheme of things it's gonna be a good thing," said McHenry.

Kathy's neighborhood sits on an old golf course and there are only about 9 homes in the whole area.

"It's sitting here barren. I think it's gonna be a good thing because they want to replat and subdivide anyway so I think it'll be a good use of the land."

10 property owners agreed to options on their land with Texas Central this year. There are still a lot more to go before the project actually happens, but the county is still divided on the issue. Josh Ninke, News 3.

Texas Central hopes to have the project underway by 2020, with a proposed stop in Grimes County. Texas lawmakers passed two bills dealing with the rail, saying the company has to provide security for the rail and no state money can b eused. Texans against high speed rail claimed it as a victory, but the company never opposed the bills. Texas Central says the state is taking the right approach with the project.

KBTX spoke with Holly Reed, the managing director of external affairs at Texas Central, on where the project stands and their relationship the land owners.
Texas Central says every day they are working on the project and currently designing the inside of the train car.
As for the land parcels, Reed says in Grimes County and Waller County more than half of the parcels of land needed are currently in option contracts. In response to the land owners who are still concerned about giving up their land Reed says their last resort would be to go through the court system.

"Land is very personal and we recognized that. We work every day with personal situations to talk through what concerns land owners have. We work one on one with landowners to listen, address concerns, and then work with them on the best path forward," said Reed.

Reed says the federal railroad administration is working on an environmental impact statement which will help determine an alternative route if need be.

Texas Central says the bullet train would bring 1,000 full time jobs to the state and economic impacts are already being seen with the building and design.