The Texas Central Railway’s bullet train between the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and Houston will survive the next legislative session, but not without some fights, predicted State Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton.
“I think there will be attempts at roadblocks – but again, as long as they are not asking for state money and they’re doing with all private money, I am a little bit skeptical as to where that could happen but I am hopeful it can – then it will go through,” he said on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics Sunday morning.
“Doesn’t mean there won’t be some battles – maybe in the legislature, certainly in court from private landowners but I believe ultimately if they’ve got the financial support to put it together it can happen.”
The Texas Central Railway is currently purchasing land to build a 240-mile closed track – much of it elevated – to run high speed trains between Dallas and Houston within 90 minutes. All of it will be financed privately, Texas Central says, without the use of any public money.
While lawmakers in the urban areas support the project, some in rural areas oppose it over the railway’s ability to use eminent domain to take land for tracks.
Simmons, the chairman of the Transportation Subcommittee on Long-term Infrastructure Planning, also said legislators will likely enact a statewide solution for Uber and Lyft. Both ride-sharing services left Austin this year when voters required the companies’ drivers to undergo background checks.
“With Austin’s actions against Uber and Lyft, yes, I think there will be support that will create a statewide issue,” said Simmons.
What form that statewide solution might take remains uncertain.
The Carrollton Republican also said building more toll roads should be up to local governments rather than the state.
“I think what’s happened is that some areas have just gone too far. I believe tolls are something that’s in the toolbox, should be in the tool box. But I believe it’s local that should make those decisions – the city councils, the counties through the RTC [Regional Transportation Council]. They should be making those decisions so that they’re held accountable for those. Statewide should not be involved in tolls. That’s really what we’ve stopped. We’ve put more money into roads. We’ve also changed the way we fund projects,” explained Simmons.
He got House Bill 20 passed last session which ranks transportation projects by need rather than letting lawmakers use political influence to get certain ones in their districts moved ahead of others.