HOUSTON – A 400-passenger bullet train able to top speeds of 200 mph could soon be making its way to Texas, and the plan is for the high-speed train to travel daily between Dallas to Houston.
“This project is going to be a game-changer,” Marvalette Hunter, with Texas Central Partners, said. “It's a landmark project that respects Texas values. It also is a project that's going to impact the economic well-being of the state, and it'll also help us to prepare for future growth in the state.”
The company behind the $12 billion project is Texas Central Partners, and according to its team, the train is something Texans want.
“When I'm out meeting and talking with people, they tell me, 'We can't wait for this project to start,'" Hunter said. "They're clamoring for it. They're asking for it, and there is a pent-up demand for it."
But in December 2015, KPRC Channel 2 News reported that not everyone is ready to hop on board with the idea.
The concern: Texas landowners who are at risk of losing their land and property under the use of eminent domain.
“This is not a government project,” Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said.
“To use eminent domain for a private company -- for a project, in my opinion, they failed to show the benefit to the public -- is flat-out wrong," Noack said. "It's nothing more than a land grab.”
And now Texas lawmakers have filed legislation to stop the bullet train in its tracks.
"This is a bad deal for Texas, and I'm hoping that our Legislature puts a stop to it,” Noack said.
Hunter contends TCP is being transparent with landowners in the 10 counties that will be affected by the railway.
“We're making offers that they are accepting. Why is that? They feel they are getting a good value for their land,” Hunter said.
Besides concern over the misuse of eminent domain, there is also the fear that Texas will one day have to bail out the private project with taxpayer dollars.
“I believe it's going to be a big taxpayer boondoggle," Noack said. "I don't believe that there is justification for the need, nor do I believe that the economics are going to pan out."
Hunter said the project will not become a burden to taxpayers.
In fact, she said it will stimulate the Texas economy with 10,000 construction-related jobs over the course of the four years of construction, and 1,000 permanent jobs once the rail line is in place.
“This project is good for Texas,” Hunter contends. “If any of these bills that are being considered right now are actually put into place, they would be successful in destroying jobs, not adding jobs.”