The House Sub-Committee on High-Speed Rail heard 11 bills relating to high-speed rail lines in Texas. State Representative John Wray presented two bills addressing the issue.
House Bill 709 would ensure that high-speed rail lines are not built with public funds, and HB 1055 will require high-speed rail tracks to be built on raised pylons in fast-growing areas of the state. Wray has also co-authored a number of other high-speed rail related measures.
"While the high-speed rail line may enjoy a little support in Houston or Dallas, in my district the vast majority of constituents oppose the project," Wray said. "Unfortunately, this gets characterized as being 'against progress' but the truth is that there are very good fiscal reasons to oppose it, as well as property rights reasons and other philosophical reasons."
HB 709 addresses fiscal issues with the project by ensuring that the company behind the proposed high-speed rail line will adhere to its own statements that no public funds will be used on the project. HB 1055 requires a high-speed rail line in a county of 1 million or adjacent to a county of 1 million to be raised upon 40-foot pylons, protecting growth and movement underneath.
Wray commented, "I look forward to raising awareness among my colleagues in the legislature that we are a fast-growing county adjacent to Dallas County and this rail line -as it is proposed- is not right for Texas. The bills I've filed will ensure that the citizens of House District 10 are treated with respect and consideration by anyone trying to construct a high-speed rail project in their backyard."
The contentious nature of this years-long disagreement between the company proposing the railroad and the landowners could be heard in much of the testimony. Witnesses testified that negotiations were not progressing, on their own, and that's why they brought their concerns to the legislature.
In regards to his own negotiations with the company behind the proposed project, Wray stated that "A lot of the testimony in response to HB 1055 was focused on the 40-ft height requirement, and one witness even said 'it's an arbitrary number.' I was hoping that some of these super intelligent people, with all of their industry knowledge, would contact me, and tell me how to right-size it. Guess how many of these folks who took the time to show up here today or took the time to contact me and help me right-size the bill? Did not hear a peep."
Both bills have been filed in the Texas House of Representatives and referred to the House Committee on Transportation where they are expected to be heard in a public hearing.