Dueling high speed rail resolutions, organizations taking opposing positions

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The Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization will Thursday hold a public hearing on and vote on a resolution of support for the development of high speed passenger rail services in Central Texas.

In background information on its website, the MPO points out that the Texas Department of transportation has been studying the feasibility of various passenger rail concepts since 2010 along both the I-45 and I-35 corridors

The route along I-45 was considered to have a higher priority and a group called Texas Corridor Partners has since been formed after studies seemed to indicate that a high speed passenger rail service connecting Dallas-Fort Worth with Houston would be feasible.

That group has hoped to generate private investment to build and operate the train, though there has some discussion that some public money would be needed for the project.

The MPO resolution voices support of the Texas Central High Speed Railway project and eventually implementation of a similar service along the I-35 corridor through Waco and McLennan County and endorses the establishment of a station in Downtown Waco for any such system.

The MPO in its supporting resolution says the Texas Data Center estimates that the population of Texas will approximately double by the year 2045 and much of the new population will reside within the triangle between Houston.

The resolution further states that the MPO believes tht highway and aviation travel will not be able to keep up with the demand and that high speed passenger rail services can provide an efficient mode of transportation.

The Heart of Texas Council of Governments has earlier approved a resolution in opposition to any high speed rail services requiring additional right of way , specifically addressing the proposal that would parallel I-45,  saying it would directly affect property owners in all counties between Dallas and Houston.

Their resolution said that private property interests would be drastically and negatively affected, farm and ranch land would be divided and the value of land substantially decreased.

The HOTCOG resolution said high speed rail would result in substantial detriment to citizens and property owner s and that serious questions have been raised about the cost estimates and ridership estimates for the proposed railway, hence the Executive Committee of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments opposes the high-speed rail process and urges the State of Texas and the federal government to halt support for and approval of the project unless and until it can be proved it would use existing rights of way only and that no public funds would be at risk to subsidize the project.

County commissioners in most of the counties in the path of the currently planned project have adopted resolutions opposing the project and in each of their meetings have agenda items updating their members on new developments on it.

The Brazos Valley Council of Governments has also passed a resolution opposing the project.

Texas Farm Bureau, which has in years past opposed previous high speed rail plans has said it will remain neutral on this one and is “sitting this one out”.

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