6 rural Texas counties file lawsuit against Houston-Dallas high speed train

A lawsuit has been filed against the high-speed train being planned between Dallas and Houston, calling out its environmental impact. The suit has been filed by a group that includes six mostly rural Texas counties, 10 landowners, and Texans Against High-Speed Rail Inc., an anti-rail group.

Plaintiffs include: the Counties of Grimes, Freestone, Leon, Madison, Navarro, and Waller; and landowners Ronny Caldwell, Calvin House, Donovan Maretick, David & Heather Miseldine, Ronald & Becky Scasta, Gene & Michaelle Whitesides, and Logan Wilson III.

The lawsuit was filed on April 14 against the U.S. Department of Transportation, and alleges that DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration conducted a shoddy review of the environmental impact of the rail line, including its proposed use of Japanese bullet-train technology that won’t connect to existing railways.

Texas Central Railroad, the developer, is not included in the lawsuit.

The complaint says that Central Japan Railway Co.’s Tokaido Shinkansen HSR technology won’t run on any other tracks and no other trains can run on its tracks, and therefore won’t support the existing national rail network.

“If construction starts but cannot be completed or the project collapses after operations commence, miles and miles of the rural Texas environment will be scarred with a useless, hulking, rusting piece of iron,” the complaint says.

Construction on the rail line won’t start until it receives approval from the Surface Transportation Board, a federal agency that regulates rail. According to the lawsuit, Texas Central has not submitted an application to the STB.

The case is Texans Against High-Speed Rail Inc. et al. v. U.S. Department of Transportation et al., case number 6:21-cv-00365, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

“Before putting any pen to paper, FRA had already made up its mind about what it was going to do and simply did it,” the lawsuit says. “Throughout the process, and likely related to having acted so far outside its lawful mission, FRA made inexplicable and irrational decisions while running roughshod over [National Environmental Policy Act]’s procedural requirements, the [Administrative Procedure Act]’s constraint on arbitrary and capricious decision-making, and Texans’ private property rights. FRA merely papered the file in an attempt to justify decisions that had already been made.”

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