The backers of the Texas Central Railway plan to build high speed rail from Dallas to Houston have often tried to claim they’re somehow doing things better than California’s high speed rail plan, particularly their pledge not to use public funding.
But they are discovering that it doesn’t matter who pays for it – rural landowners still get cranky when proposing to run a rail line through their area:
Yet the reception has been less rosy from rural communities that will be on or near a possible train route. Officials and residents have expressed concern about the noise from trains whizzing past their quiet towns dozens of times a day and about a track dividing farmland and reducing property values.
“I haven’t heard anything positive about it whatsoever,” said Byron Ryder, the county judge in Leon County, which is about halfway between Dallas and Houston. “I’ve talked to other judges and commissioners up and down the line, landowners up and down the line. No one wants it.”
Texas is discovering that NIMBYism doesn’t know the difference between red states and blue states – and that NIMBYs don’t care whether or not government is paying for something they hate.
What will be interesting is to see how Texas Central deals with this. Are they going to turn to the government and use their eminent domain power to force reluctant landowners to sell? Will they shell out extra money to engineer the route to avoid the noisiest landowners?
No matter what the answer, it goes to show that California HSR hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong at all in its efforts in the Central Valley regarding rural landowners. Some people you just can’t reach. It also suggests that Texas HSR should not be quite so smug when comparing their project to California’s.