The long legal battle over the proposed Houston-to-Dallas high speed rail line is about to enter a new phase. A Leon County landowner is asking the Texas Supreme Court to prevent the use of eminent domain for the project. The state's high court is deciding whether to take up the case after a lower court ruled last May that the Texas Central project qualifies as a railroad, and thus can use eminent domain.
State Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) supports the lawsuit, and believes the Texas Supreme Court will ultimately take the case and overturn the lower court's decision. "There is a difference between public use and private use, and this is private use," he tells KTRH. "This is a private corporation that wants to steal people's property for their private purposes...this is not a public railroad."
For his part, Toth has already filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would slow down state approval of the project. "(The bill) basically stops the state of Texas from being able to work with Texas Central until all the federal permits and approvals have been granted by the federal government," he says.
If the Texas Supreme Court rules against Texas Central, it would be a devastating blow to the project, which has faced new financial setbacks in the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Toth thinks the entire project is dubious, both financially and legally. "I don't think it is ever gonna happen," he says. "They have been running out of cash for quite awhile now, their burn rate is astronomical, and they can't find additional funding."
Ultimately, it could be Texas landowners that prevent this train from ever leaving the station. "Texans deserve the right to decide the fate of their land," says Toth. "It should not be decided by a private corporation."