Texas Central, the company panning to build a high speed rail between Dallas and Houston, with a stop in Grimes County, locked down a big win in court last week.
According to a release from Texas Central, the Thirteenth Court of Appeals of Texas in Corpus Christi ruled that Texas Central is both a railroad and an interurban electric railway. The legal process stems from Leon County, where landowners argued that Texas Central is not a railroad and therefore, did not have right associated with a railroad, including eminent domain and access to property for surveyors.
The property owners in Leon County, Barbara and Jim miles, plan to take their fight to the Texas Supreme Court. Thus far, on the Texans Against High Speed Rail Facebook page, the Miles’ have received over 200 comments of support.
Meanwhile, Texas Central President Carlos Aguilar, issued a statement on their website, thanking the Appeals Court for “recognizing their company is the same as other railroads, electrical lines, pipelines and other industries that employ eminent domain and surveyor access to private property.” He also said that Texas Central “will always respect Texas landowners’ rights and will follow due process.”
Full responses to the ruling, from both Texas Central and Texans Against High Speed Rail, is located below.
Texans Against High Speed Rail:
Today, the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals ruled Texas Central and its newly-formed affiliate ITL are railroad companies and interurban electric railways under Texas law. Based on this ruling, anybody with $300 and a computer can immediately obtain the extraordinary power of eminent domain by simply filing papers with the Texas Secretary of State self-declaring to be a railroad.
This is not and cannot be the law in Texas.
Jim and Barbara Miles intend to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, which has consistently and repeatedly recognized the importance of private property rights in Texas. We are disappointed the Court of Appeals treated these fundamental rights, cherished by all Texans, with such disregard. This is definitely not the end of the road for us. Until the Texas Supreme Court issues a final ruling, Texas Central cannot condemn private property. If Jim and Barbara Miles are still in for the fight, you must be too. On to the Texas Supreme Court.
On the heels of a four-year long court battle, the Thirteenth Court of Appeals of Texas has ruled in favor of Texas Central, holding that it is both a railroad company and interurban electric railway.
This legal process stems from landowners along the proposed route in Leon County who argued that the Texas Central project was not a railroad and therefore did not have the rights associated with a railroad, including eminent domain and access to property for surveyors.
The Memorandum Opinion, authored by Justice Nora Longoria, held “Having found that the appellants (Texas Central Railroad and Infrastructure, Inc. and Integrated Texas Logistics, Inc.) are both railroad companies and interurban electric railways, we conclude that the trial court erred by granting (landowner’s) motion for summary judgment and denying appellants’ motion for partial summary judgment.”
“This decision is rooted in state law that allows survey access and use of eminent domain by railroads, pipelines, electrical lines and other industries that provide for the public good and a strong economy,” said Carlos Aguilar, CEO of Texas Central. “This decision confirms our status as an operating railroad and allows us to continue moving forward with our permitting process and all of our other design, engineering and land acquisition efforts.”
In 2019, Texas Central completed a portion of the land surveys required by the federal agencies conducting an environmental review of the project. This information allowed Texas Central to plan a route that is efficient, considerate of the environment through Central Texas and impacts the fewest property owners. The Final Environmental Impact Statement on the project is scheduled to be published by the Federal Railroad Administration later this month.
“Texas Central confirms that it will always respect Texas landowners’ rights and will follow due process. Texas Central wishes to express gratitude to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals for its time in considering Texas Central’s appeal,” continued Aguilar.