The 13th Court of Appeals of Texas ruled in favor of Texas Central, holding that it was both a railroad company and interurban electric railway.
The appeal ruling comes after a four-year-long court battle waged by landowners and rural legislators along the proposed route in Leon County, Texas. The landowners and elected officials argued that the Texas Central project was not a railroad and therefore did not have the rights associated with a railroad, including eminent domain and access to property for surveyors. In 2019, Texas Central completed a portion of those land surveys required by the federal agencies conducting an environmental review of the project. The information allowed Texas Central to plan their high-speed rail route from Dallas to Houston.
“This decision is rooted in state law that allows survey access and use of eminent domain by railroads, pipelines, electrical lines and other industries that provide for the public good and a strong economy,” said Carlos Aguilar, CEO of Texas Central. “This decision confirms our status as an operating railroad and allows us to continue moving forward with our permitting process and all of our other design, engineering and land acquisition efforts.”
Three days of public hearings on the railroad’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) were recently concluded, and the FEIS is scheduled to be published by the Federal Railroad Administration later this month. Texas Central has indicated that its project is shovel-ready and the appeals court ruling clears a major hurdle toward the start of construction.
The Memorandum Opinion, authored by Justice Nora Longoria, stated that, “Having found that the appellants (Texas Central Railroad and Infrastructure, Inc. and Integrated Texas Logistics, Inc.) are both railroad companies and interurban electric railways, we conclude that the trial court erred by granting Miles’ motion for summary judgment and denying appellants’ motion for partial summary judgment.”
“Texas Central confirms that it will always respect Texas landowners’ rights and will follow due process. Texas Central wishes to express gratitude to the 13th Court of Appeals
for its time in considering Texas Central’s appeal,” continued Aguilar. “[The] ruling supports the enormous amount of work Texas Central has done to date. Texas has the capacity, drive and population growth needed to make the Texas high-speed train successful and it’s that momentum that is pushing the nation’s first high-speed train forward.”
Based in Dallas, Texas Central and its worldwide partners are slated to develop, design, construct, finance, and operate the new high-speed passenger train line. It will connect the fourth and fifth largest economies in the country, North Texas and Greater Houston, in less than 90 minutes, with one stop in the Brazos Valley. The railroad project is expected to create 17,000 jobs, one of the largest infrastructure projects ever in the state of Texas.
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