DALLAS — The Federal Railroad Administration has agreed to hold a public hearing to seek comments from rural Texas county landowners and local officials that would be impacted by a proposed high-speed rail project connecting Dallas and Houston, a Texas congressman said this week.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said he secured a commitment from Ronald Batory, FRA administrator, to hold a public hearing for Texans living in rural counties who might have issues with the project.
Brady opposes Texas Central's high-speed rail project that could one day connect Dallas and Houston via a 90-minute train ride.
"All we want is for our rural voices to be heard," Brady said in a prepared statement. "Administrator Batory is committed to reaching out beyond just Dallas and Houston to hear directly from our landowners and community leaders about the impact on our rural communities including safety worries, damage to our rural countryside, and documented questions about the financial shakiness of this controversial project."
Texas Central said in a statement it's participated in 40 public hearings and open houses since 2015 and has met thousands of community members along the proposed route.
"We have been well aware that such hearings are an expected part of the process and look forward to participating, if and when requested, as we have in numerous previous hearings and proceedings," the company said in a statement. "The relevant public input received from hearings like this makes the project better."
Texas Central is waiting for the government to take two actions: issue a final Environmental Impact Study and Rule of Particular Applicability. The RPA will be a set of regulations that will govern Texas Central's project like how it handles safety and security.
Once the government completes those two actions, Texas Central will close financing and begin construction as soon as this year, the company has said. It will take between five and six years to build the tracks and stations once the project gets all the necessary approvals.
A release from Brady's office said the FRA "expects to announce in February the proposed rules and to begin to seek public comments." His office added hearing sites and dates are expected to be announced as the draft rules are announced.