Developers of the planned high-speed rail project connecting Houston and Dallas are steaming down the track, despite continued opposition and unresolved legal issues. Holly Reed, Managing Director of External Affairs for Texas Central--the company behind the project--tells KTRH they still hope to break ground by the end of 2019 and have trains running by 2024. "We've got hundreds of people working every day on the engineering and design work that it takes to build a major infrastructure project like this," she says.
Texas Central has been checking off boxes on the project in recent months. Earlier this year, an environmental study on the project was completed, and train station hub sites were chosen in Dallas and Houston. In recent months, developers secured a new $300 million loan and announced partnerships with a firm called Salini for infrastructure and the Spanish company Renfe to operate the trains. "We also were just recognized as a Strategic 100 top project for North America, and a project of the year from national infrastructure groups," says Reed.
Texas Central has long touted the economic benefits of the project, starting with the construction jobs it will create during building. "There will be 10,000 people (needed) every year during the construction of the project, and we are actively working to make sure that those workers are in place," says Reed.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of obstacles blocking the track. Groups like Texans Against High Speed Rail are still opposing the project, and many rural landowners along the proposed route are refusing to give up any of their property, or even allow their land to be surveyed by project developers. That issue is still pending in the courts. But developers believe it will ultimately be resolved. "We work every single day with communities and individual land owners all along the alignment, to make sure that we have the least impact on communities, land owners and the environment," says Reed.