High-speed rail project awaits word from Texas Supreme Court in Eminent Domain case

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The battle over whether the high-speed train project between Dallas and Houston, proposed by Texas Central, will have eminent domain power continues. The case has been ongoing since 2017.

The eminent domain is the concept that the government has the right to take property for public use as long as it provides fair compensation.

Texas Central Railroad prevailed over the matter at the 13th Texas Court of Appeals, which ruled last May that the project can exercise eminent domain power as it qualifies as a railroad under Texas law.

In December, James Miles, a Leon County landowner whose land would be cut in half by the 240-mile railroad project, filed his brief on the substance of the case as requested by the Texas Supreme Court (SCOTX).

Miles has asked the Texas Supreme Court to review a lower court decision in his case because he believes Texas Central Railroad and its affiliates do not have the eminent domain authority to enter his property and l ‘pace.

Texas Central filed its responnse in late December, arguing that the Court of Appeals had made the right decision in declaring that Texas Central was a railway company and an intercity electric rail company under the Texas Transportation Code, and therefore had eminent authority in the matter. He also pointed out that Miles could only win at SCOTX if these two bases of eminent domain power were overthrown.

Miles argues that the Eminent Estate is such a powerful authority that it must be “interpreted strictly in favor of the landowner” and demanded “strict observance of all legal requirements”. Miles claims Texas Central does not qualify because it is not yet an operating railroad.

SNCF America, an indirect American subsidiary of Société Nationale SNCF SA (“SNCF”), the French national railway company, has filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief in favor of landowners.

“SNCF America has filed an amicus curiae file in this very important case because the company believes that the high-speed train has great potential in the United States. But the Texas Central Partners bullet train “plan” is, to use a Texan expression, all hat and no cattle, “attorney Christopher Odell wrote in response to an investigation by texan.

“For years, Texas Central Partners has claimed that it will build its project using only private funds, although no bullet train project in the world has been built solely with private funds. As SNCF America knows, and as Texas Central Partners has now started to admit, the infrastructure costs are simply too high for a fully private company to build and profitably operate such a project, ”a- he continued.

Texas Central has made it clear over the past two years that it will explore all forms of funding available for investment projects, including existing federal loan programs such as the Rehabilitation and Improvement Funding Program. of railways (RRIF) and the law on financing and innovation of transport infrastructure (TIFIA), its spokesperson said Last spring.

SNCF America does not currently operate any rail lines in the United States, but “looks forward to doing so in the future,” Odell wrote.

The company submitted requests for proposals to the Federal Railroad Administration for high-speed train projects in 2008 and 2016.

SNCF was critical of the Texas Central proposal in the past and submitted comments to the Federal Railroad Administration raise concerns about the project before the publication of the final environmental impact statement last fall.

Miles is now waiting to see if SCOTX will grant his request and argue for oral argument, Miles attorney Patrick McShan said. texan.

Texas Central Railroad has chosen not to comment on this story.

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