The company planning to build a high-speed rail connecting Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes with one stop in Grimes County says it has received final approval from federal officials.
In a press release this (Monday) morning, Texas Central Railroad (TCR) announced the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released the final Record of Decision (ROD) and Rule of Particular Applicability (RPA). The ROD completes the federal environmental review process, while the RPA gives the framework for the safety requirements of the Japanese-developed trains.
While federal officials have not confirmed the final approvals, Texas Central said the full ROD and RPA will soon be published in the Federal Register. The company said it is “ready to build and will proceed to construction as soon as possible to contribute to the nation’s COVID-19 recovery”.
The project has faced scrutiny and opposition from citizens and representatives in the counties along the proposed route of the high-speed rail, which would include a stop in the Roans Prairie area of Grimes County. Last week, the organization Texans Against High Speed Rail claimed the company has deeded property from Texas landowners to the Japanese government through an offshore entity set up in the Cayman Islands.
In each county, including Grimes, Leon, Madison, and Waller Counties, the company filed a “Deed of Trust, Assignment of Leases and Rents, Security Agreement and Fixture Filing” relating to property owned by Texas Central in that county. The beneficiary of these Deeds of Trust, according to Texans Against High Speed Rail, is an off-shore entity named “Japan Texas High-Speed Railway Cayman GP”.
The organization said it appears Texas Central was required by the Japanese government to put up the land as collateral for the loan owed to them, but did not disclose this offshore beneficiary to any of the landowners it convinced to sign an option contract, nor did it disclose plans to use the property purchased through the option contacts to secure a loan from the Japanese government.
State Representative Ben Leman responded to the matter in a statement, seen below:
“I am simply appalled,” said State Representative Ben Leman. “Since their conception, Texas Central has lied to its investors and Texans about this project. First, they said this project would cost $10 billion, yet now we learn their estimated costs have ballooned out of control to $30 billion. Second, Texas Central said this project would be privately-funded and they would not ask for government grants for construction or public money to subsidize operations. Yet, this is no longer true either; as they have admitted to actively seeking funding through a federal stimulus bill being pushed by Nancy Pelosi and the Green New Deal. Lastly, they claim to be a Texas company, yet they deeded the property acquired through threat of eminent domain and false pretenses to the Japanese Government. That is not a Texan thing to do and Texas Central must be stopped before other Texans and Texas taxpayers end up on the hook for their web of lies and misinformation. Many of my constituents’ family members fought and died for the very land they own. To take their land and give it to a foreign government under these circumstances is an insult to not only these families, but to every single Texan that cares about private property rights and our culture.”
Critics have argued the project will ruin the character of rural communities, and say they expect lawsuits to stop construction on the project.
Update @ 2:15 p.m.: Texans Against High Speed Rail released a statement today in response to the FRA’s release of the ROD and RPA, which it said marks “the beginning, not the end, of TCR’s regulatory journey”. The organization said the FRA’s actions “clear the way for legal challenges” concerning the project’s environmental impact and financial feasibility.