SCOTX Says Company Can Use Eminent Domain For Bullet Train Project

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas Supreme Court ruling Friday allows the private groups behind the proposed bullet train between Houston and Dallas to use the eminent domain to take land for the project.

The ruling said Chapter 131 of the Texas Transportation Code grants eminent domain authority to an “interurban electric railroad company,” a company chartered electric railroad connecting cities in Texas for the transportation of freight, passengers, or both.

The company, Texas Central, controls three stations in Houston, Dallas and near College Station. The journey between Houston and Dallas takes less than 90 minutes.

“Driving is unpredictable”, Travis Kelly, vice president of Texas Central, said, “It should take 4.5 hours to get from Dallas to Houston, but often it doesn’t.”

Texas Central also controls much of the land for the route, but some landowners have filed a lawsuit to block the construction.

James Fredrick Miles, owner of real estate along the railroad’s proposed route, has filed a lawsuit after Texas Central attempted to investigate his property. A court granted an injunction for Miles.

But on Friday, the Supreme Court sided with Texas Central 5-3 and said they would qualify as both a railway company and an interurban electric railway company.

This ruling means that they can take that land for the project for public use and pay landowners for it, even if the landowner objects.

In 2018, Texas Central received a loan for this project of up to $300 million from Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transportation & Urban Development and Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

The project is expected to take approximately five years to complete.