Central Texas high speed rail claims of progress disputed

After prayer and pledges, the Leon County Commissioners Court went into a brief executive session that resulted in a motion in open court to accept payments in lieu of taxes from the city of Garland for the cross Texas power transmission lines. The payments will be in the range of one hundred thousand dollars a year. A following motion allowed David Grimes to move an existing employee into a position vacated by a retiree.

Kyle Workman from the Texans against high speed rail appeared later in the meeting to dispute previous claims by a Central Texas Railroad representative that things were going well and work was proceeding. The following, in quotations is his paraphrase of his statements in the courtroom.

“In spite of all the propaganda to the contrary, TCR does not have eminent domain authority; this will take years to resolve. A Leon County Court issued a Final Judgment that TCR is not a railroad nor an interurban electric railway; such a designation is required to exercise eminent domain and coercive survey rights. TCR appealed the Final Judgment to the Waco Court of Appeals, and asked that the appeal be expedited. The appeal was then transferred to the Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi, and that court denied TCR’s request to expedite the appeal, meaning the process will proceed as any other normal appeal which we expect to be 12-18 months. Once the appeal is decided, it will likely go to the Texas Supreme Court, where it could take several more years to adjudicate. In the meantime, TCR cannot properly complete the Environmental Statement(s), nor their design, due to incomplete or inaccurate information due to their inability to coerce access and surveys. (See Miles v. TCR/ITL and Grimes County v. TCR cases)

TCR will claim there is a “conflicting ruling” in Harris County, which is untrue. Indeed TCR did secure a “default judgment” where a landowner did not appear in at the hearing. They have since released the judgment, making it null/ void. Further, that case has absolutely no bearing or influence on any other legal case, particularly given that TCR was denied access in another Harris County case (TCR v. House).

Specifically for TCR, the FRA still must evaluate and issue a Rule of Particular Applicability (RPA), or develop specific Tier IV Regulations. This process has been on hold since 2016 and is forecasted to take years to complete. An RPA is required since TCR’s operational systems fail to meet the current Tier III Railroad Regulations. We understand that the FRA has never executed an RPA, so they must develop the process as much as the result.

Given TCR’s lack of eminent domain, expending any County resources, at this point, would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, since the project cannot be completed without such power. This would apply to any meeting(s) or other coordination efforts, including necessary evaluations of impacts. Further, in order to have substantive productive meetings, TCR should provide much more detailed information which complies with current County regulations, which presented TCR proposals fail to do.

TCR still only has around 1% of their money, which is a pittance and not enough to claim commencement any time soon. Given their claim of “private funding”, no loan or investment will be made until all permits and authorizations are complete and final. As noted above, this is years away, given much of this process for them must take place in sequence. Further, securing and closing on $20B worth of investment and/or loans will take many months or years.

Finally, see TAHSR’s recent release on the STB.

In summary, it is completely implausible that TCR will commence construction in earnest this year or next. There are simply too many obstacles in their way, some of which are not even included herein. Any propaganda presented by TCR must be met with heavy skepticism.

In the future, I will be happy to provide you with rebuttal information anytime TCR makes any claim(s).”

Other action saw Hank Dembosky appointed to replace Eric Linquist who resigned on the ESD #2 board of commissioners for the remaining term.

Leslie Wallrath was granted permission to use the gazebo on the square to read the Declaration of Independence at 12:00 on July 3rd. She has done this for the last several years.

A road use agreement for CR 289 was approved as were inter local agreements with BVCOG pertaining to the Emergency Notification System, E911 database maintenance and the Public Safety Answering Point Services.

The Workforce Commission was approved to put a lock box on their Leon County office.

The contract with Bedias Creek Soil and Water Conservation District #428 was renewed. “We get a lot more out of them than we put in.” Commissioner Joey Sullivan remarked.