DALLAS — Texas Central, developers of the high-speed train project in Texas, recently announced that it has marked a significant milestone in its land option program. Through a Feb. 7 press release, the developers said the feat was the result of collaborative and ongoing engagements with property owners and stakeholders along the project’s potential route.
According to the press release, the company has reached option agreements on about 30 percent of the parcels estimated to be needed for the bullet train’s route in the 10-county stretch between Dallas and Houston.
"Negotiations have resulted in option agreements in all 10 counties, including 50 percent of the parcels for the proposed route in Waller and Grimes counties," the release noted. "Grimes County is the site of a Brazos Valley passenger station, a midway stop on the 240-mile line between the state’s top metro areas. Texas Central’s option program compensates owners today in exchange for the right to acquire a parcel at a future date at an agreed price. The option offers are being made in select areas of alignments that are under review as part of the project’s environmental assessment."
Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said the acquisition of roughly one-third of the land needed to complete the project is a testament to Texans realizing the potential benefits.
“This is a significant step in the progress of the high-speed train and it reflects the positive dialogue we have had with landowners along the route,” stated Aguilar in the release. “Texans see the many benefits of a system that will provide a safe, reliable and productive alternative to the state’s transportation demands.”
According to the release, Texas Central has pledged to engage in personalized, open and collaborative discussions with landowners, listening to concerns, outlining the project’s benefits and answering questions. Texas Central, so far, has hosted 28 information meetings throughout the 10 counties, which has allowed for additional individual conversations with project managers and subject matter experts.
As a result of this cooperative approach, the company said more than 3,000 families and businesses signed letters giving surveyors access as part of the environmental assessment. A substantial portion of the initial survey work has been completed and is continuing where needed.
As for the legal issues that have arisen, the release states that "in those few cases in which Texas Central sought a court decision to allow survey access, conversations with landowners later resulted in a favorable resolution reached out of court in a majority of these instances."
"Because of the positive collaboration with Texans along the route and the progress of the environmental assessment, Texas Central has withdrawn the remaining 18 cases to allow it to work with all landowners on an amicable approach for permission to survey," the announcement added. "The Texas bullet train continues to progress every day with action on many fronts, including infrastructure engineering design, development of world-leading safety practices and rules, the design of the interior of the trains, best practices for the customer or rider experience, minimizing environmental impact and much more."