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High Speed Rail / Texas Triangle


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34 minutes ago, Big E said:

Except this isn't running through living rooms, but fields. Nobody's losing their house over this. When it goes through populated areas, it will follow existing rail corridors, and when its traveling through the country, no one's house will be in the way.

But the point is, you're taking their property for a private entity. Whether it's land or a building doesn't matter. Now if TCR was willing to pony up $100 million an acre, I'm sure people who are currently opposed might listen.

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9 hours ago, gmac said:

I think I'll get together with a few friends and run a railway right through your living room. You surely wouldn't object to that, would you? It would be progress, after all!

Can you do it about 100 yards from my living room down Richmond to Eldridge?

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9 hours ago, gmac said:

But the point is, you're taking their property for a private entity. Whether it's land or a building doesn't matter. Now if TCR was willing to pony up $100 million an acre, I'm sure people who are currently opposed might listen.

Their property is not being taken, it is a forced sale of an easement.  So it's more like if I forced you to sell me your house at HCAD appraised value so I could build a railway there, but you would still own the land if my railroad failed.

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18 hours ago, gmac said:

I think I'll get together with a few friends and run a railway right through your living room. You surely wouldn't object to that, would you? It would be progress, after all!

Absolutely, we need proper rail transit in this city.

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Texasota said:

Asked a question gmac already sorta answered.

What it clearly comes down to is that most people agree with the concept of acquiring private property for the purpose of infrastructure projects *if* those projects are worth it. We just can't agree on which projects are worth it and which ones are "boondoggles" (or actively destructive to communities, the environment, etc).

 

I appreciate you kind of honing in on the central question. But I don't even think we need to go to the "if the project is worth it" part. I would assume everyone is happy since this is like a Texas politician's dream because before Biden/Major Pete it had minimal gov't support, they bought most of the land themselves, and the attorneys I know that have worked on this indicate that they are prideful about the private (rather than public) aspect of this. Its a private company that is going to set rates according to a market that they create. This is the type of capitalistic wet dream Texas loves. Like I mentioned before, I know a handful of people who have farms along this route that purposefully bought land they knew this company would have to buy just so they could sell it to this company. 

Other than those 13 or so landowners who are probably just butt-hurt about not buying more land to sell to this company, I honestly can't understand why anyone else would be against this. That lawsuit is trash, btw. The remedies can't even stop construction, lulz. 

Edited by X.R.
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I think some people also see trains as a threat to their lifestyle. If trains get built all over the place then maybe they'll start taking away my right to drive directly to and from every single place I go. Also bike lanes. 

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17 hours ago, gmac said:

But the point is, you're taking their property for a private entity. Whether it's land or a building doesn't matter. Now if TCR was willing to pony up $100 million an acre, I'm sure people who are currently opposed might listen.

What @cspwal said. This is a rail easement. Nobody's land is being taken here. Hell, most of the people opposing this project are probably just salty they didn't have more land to sell to make more money. This won't even disrupt the property around it, since it will be built on a viaduct that will allow everything from vehicles to animals to pass completely unimpeded underneath. No property owner loses on this deal.

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2 hours ago, Big E said:

What @cspwal said. This is a rail easement. Nobody's land is being taken here. Hell, most of the people opposing this project are probably just salty they didn't have more land to sell to make more money. This won't even disrupt the property around it, since it will be built on a viaduct that will allow everything from vehicles to animals to pass completely unimpeded underneath. No property owner loses on this deal.

It won't be built on a viaduct, but on a berm with occasional cut throughs for animals and such, so many properties will be cut in half by a 20 foot high(or whatever it is) pile of dirt. I can understand why some people would be opposed. There are also people who just flat out do not want to move from land that's been in their family for generations, or has other non-monetary value.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/6/2021 at 7:03 PM, Ross said:

It won't be built on a viaduct, but on a berm with occasional cut throughs for animals and such, so many properties will be cut in half by a 20 foot high(or whatever it is) pile of dirt. I can understand why some people would be opposed. There are also people who just flat out do not want to move from land that's been in their family for generations, or has other non-monetary value.

Except NOBODY IS MOVING. As you said, there will be cuts in the berm for things to pass through. Its no more disruptive than your average railway. In fact, because of the cuts in the berm, it will probably be less disruptive. It will definitely be less disruptive than a highway or road. There is no real reason, no good reason to oppose this, at all.

Edited by Big E
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On 5/6/2021 at 12:17 PM, Texasota said:

I think some people also see trains as a threat to their lifestyle. If trains get built all over the place then maybe they'll start taking away my right to drive directly to and from every single place I go. Also bike lanes. 

Okay but that's not like a real thing that will happen, so it's not a fear I feel like I should have to take seriously lol

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Testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials last week:

Carlos Aguilar (TCR): https://transportation.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Aguilar Testimony.pdf

Yep, they want to glom as much cash from the taxpayers as possible. Change of tune from their original proposal.

 

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1 hour ago, gmac said:

Testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials last week:

Carlos Aguilar (TCR): https://transportation.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Aguilar Testimony.pdf

Yep, they want to glom as much cash from the taxpayers as possible. Change of tune from their original proposal.

 

Lot of corporate/government blather and overstatement.  Not surprising in this kind of document.  What exactly, though, are they asking for?

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12 hours ago, august948 said:

Curiously, they characterize the route as "Houston to North Texas".  Not Houston to Dallas or DFW.

That’s what the folks up north have started calling themselves.

12 hours ago, august948 said:

Lot of corporate/government blather and overstatement.  Not surprising in this kind of document.  What exactly, though, are they asking for?

They are asking for access to a loan program, which allows lower-interest financing.

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On 5/25/2021 at 6:51 PM, gmac said:

Yep, they want to glom as much cash from the taxpayers as possible. Change of tune from their original proposal.

Libertarian ideals always go out the door when it comes time to charge the tax man instead of paying him.

That said, I couldn't care less. It's a great use of tax dollars, and whatever costume we have to put on it to get it over the finish line is fine by me.

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7 hours ago, Andrew Ewert said:

Libertarian ideals always go out the door when it comes time to charge the tax man instead of paying him.

That said, I couldn't care less. It's a great use of tax dollars, and whatever costume we have to put on it to get it over the finish line is fine by me.

Glad to know you're also fully backing the I-45 construction!

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9 hours ago, gmac said:

Glad to know you're also fully backing the I-45 construction!

how are the two projects even relatable?

one is mass transit that is wanting access to loans

one is another freeway widening project that has no intention of paying any of the money back

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23 hours ago, gmac said:

Glad to know you're also fully backing the I-45 construction!

While I actually have no problem with the I-45 project and even support certain aspects of it, that is in no way comparable  to this.

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On 5/26/2021 at 8:57 AM, Houston19514 said:

They are asking for access to a loan program, which allows lower-interest financing.

So I don't see a big deal with this.  Loaning taxpayer money that gets paid back in order to get infrastructure projects built seems like it's a win-win for the company and the public. Private entities can usually do things more efficiently than government agencies. 

Are they proposing to borrow the money and then have the debt cancelled?

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Posted (edited)
On 6/3/2021 at 8:35 AM, samagon said:

how are the two projects even relatable?

one is mass transit that is wanting access to loans

one is another freeway widening project that has no intention of paying any of the money back

Pardon me if I'm wrong, but to my knowledge from prior research most highway projects are funded mostly by bond money which is raised, and then is paid back over a few decades. The money that doesn't have to be paid back is if you get grants from the Feds for certain projects or interstates (because interstates are federal). TCR will most certainly see most of its funding from private backers, but honestly would it really be that bad if they borrowed money through the form of government bonds? I don't see that as a bad thing. I've kind of lessoned my tone on this over the years as I've generally become more pragmatic. If you have the opportunity to dip into a resource of money which is at your disposal for said purpose then take it, and handle the problems with it down the road. Would it be great if it was all private money. You bet. Could that still happen? You bet. Does it absolutely need to happen for this to be a success or is it practical? No.

Edited by Luminare
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Posted (edited)
On 6/4/2021 at 4:10 PM, Luminare said:

Pardon me if I'm wrong, but to my knowledge from prior research most highway projects are funded mostly by bond money which is raised, and then is paid back over a few decades. The money that doesn't have to be paid back is if you get grants from the Feds for certain projects or interstates (because interstates are federal). TCR will most certainly see most of its funding from private backers, but honestly would it really be that bad if they borrowed money through the form of government bonds? I don't see that as a bad thing. I've kind of lessoned my tone on this over the years as I've generally become more pragmatic. If you have the opportunity to dip into a resource of money which is at your disposal for said purpose then take it, and handle the problems with it down the road. Would it be great if it was all private money. You bet. Could that still happen? You bet. Does it absolutely need to happen for this to be a success or is it practical? No.

in order to pay for something, you do need cash in hand. so yes, there is a bond that is sold, which for the purposes of this discussion, it is the same as a loan (the difference between a loan and a bond is that the bond can be traded).

so yes, they are both borrowing money that need to be paid back.

the thing is, the government pays for their loan by collecting taxes, where this company will pay back their loan the same way any other company does, which is by selling products.

Edited by samagon
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https://communityimpact.com/houston/cy-fair/transportation/2021/06/15/texas-central-signs-16b-construction-contract-for-high-speed-rail-project/

$16 billion contract signed with Webuild (former Salini Impregilo) for the design and construction of Texas Central's high speed railway. No word on financing from what I've seen so this just seems to be an updated version of the $14 billion design-build contract signed a couple years ago.

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1 hour ago, texan said:

https://communityimpact.com/houston/cy-fair/transportation/2021/06/15/texas-central-signs-16b-construction-contract-for-high-speed-rail-project/

$16 billion contract signed with Webuild (former Salini Impregilo) for the design and construction of Texas Central's high speed railway. No word on financing from what I've seen so this just seems to be an updated version of the $14 billion design-build contract signed a couple years ago.

Apologies to Wimpy... "I'll gladly pay you in 2100 for a railroad you build in 2021"

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Quote

Officials said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper they are progressing toward construction daily, and they anticipate construction will start in late 2021 or early 2022. Learn more at www.texascentral.com.

Hrmmm.

I mean, I haven't held my breath on any aspect of this project so far, and I'm not gonna start on this date, either. 

 

 

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Texas Supreme Court declines to review high-speed rail case, freeing company up to use eminent domain

Quote

The Texas Supreme Court denied the review of a case June 18 that was part of a legal challenge first launched by landowners Jim and Barbara Miles in 2016. The decision frees up Texas Central to use eminent domain, if necessary, to acquire tracts of land needed to construct the project.

“The Court’s denial of review should put an end to over five years of contentious litigation and clear the path for Texas Central to bring the high-speed train to Texas,” Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in a statement.

 

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"Let's go steal us some land!"

 

BTW, you can save all the hoohah about fair market price, blah blah blah. This is yet another billionaire boondoggle taking things from others and laughing all the way.

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15 hours ago, Texasota said:

and out of that we get what might be the most important infrastructure project in the country.

Thanks for having your personal assistant drop by, Drayton.

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On 6/18/2021 at 5:16 PM, gmac said:

"Let's go steal us some land!"

 

BTW, you can save all the hoohah about fair market price, blah blah blah. This is yet another billionaire boondoggle taking things from others and laughing all the way.

Stop posting lies.

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1 hour ago, gmac said:

Lies? It's an opinion, like 99% of the other drivel people post on subjects that are contentious.

Sorry, no.  It's either stealing or it's not.  In this case, no one is stealing anything and there is zero indication of such.

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40 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

Sorry, no.  It's either stealing or it's not.  In this case, no one is stealing anything and there is zero indication of such.

I consider eminent domain by a private company to be theft. You don't.

I wish TCR all the worst in their efforts and look forward to a miserable failure of this fairytale project. I promise not to come to y'all's giddy party if this thing actually gets built 🤣

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I just hope everyone so against the rail on the grounds of eminent domain voices their concerns to their representative. After all, there are like a dozen of projects for pipelines and other utility easements in various phases of work right now, not to mention the massive I45 project which is projected to displace even more vulnerable people than the rail. I'm sure they're just as concerned about those uses of eminent domain too.

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16 hours ago, gmac said:

I consider eminent domain by a private company to be theft. You don't.

Perhaps what you are meaning to say is that you wish the law considered all eminent domain by all private companies to be theft.  But that is not the law. The law clearly allows for eminent domain by certain private companies in certain situations; ergo, in those situations, it is, by definition, not theft. This is simply not a matter of opinion.

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17 hours ago, gmac said:

I consider eminent domain by a private company to be theft. You don't.

I wish TCR all the worst in their efforts and look forward to a miserable failure of this fairytale project. I promise not to come to y'all's giddy party if this thing actually gets built 🤣

Are you Rowdy?

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21 hours ago, gmac said:

I consider eminent domain by a private company to be theft. You don't.

I wish TCR all the worst in their efforts and look forward to a miserable failure of this fairytale project. I promise not to come to y'all's giddy party if this thing actually gets built 🤣

do you feel the same for freeways, or any government infrastructure projects?

is it just private companies?

how about railway used for freight? how about pipelines?

CenterPoint isn't a government entity, how about if they need to build a new powerline so that power can reach the new subdivisions out in the Katy Prairie, but in order to do so, they have to buy land from a rancher?

 

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2 hours ago, samagon said:

do you feel the same for freeways, or any government infrastructure projects?

is it just private companies?

how about railway used for freight? how about pipelines?

CenterPoint isn't a government entity, how about if they need to build a new powerline so that power can reach the new subdivisions out in the Katy Prairie, but in order to do so, they have to buy land from a rancher?

 

The argument I always heard for eminent domain power for infrastructure projects is without it, the last person to sell has an incentive to set a ridiculously large price, since a multi-billion dollar railroad/pipeline/road/etc that needs to cross their land or else it fails would have to pay vastly more to buy it.  It's a point on the supply demand curve where supply goes to near 0, demand goes to the maximum of the project, so the price could be whatever number the landowner could wring out of the company building the project.  By making it so they have to sell at a normal price, it enables companies to build infrastructure as opposed to requiring governments to decide on every single piece of infrastructure that needs to be built.

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On 6/18/2021 at 4:08 PM, BeerNut said:

Wait...let me get this straight. Are the courts saying that TCR is in fact...a railroad?! What a shocker.

On 6/20/2021 at 2:33 PM, Houston19514 said:

Sorry, no.  It's either stealing or it's not.  In this case, no one is stealing anything and there is zero indication of such.

If one were to get technical, it is stealing in a sense if one does not wish to make the trade (land for money). What most don't understand is that by virtue of living in Texas you essentially agree to the social contract within Texas (the Texas Constitution, and its laws) and therefore you sign on when you own property that if it comes to a point where someone requires eminent domain on your land then you have to understand that by law its something you will have to agree too. By owning property in that state you have agreed to a contract and whatever laws bind it. Its a law Texans as a people agreed to that in this circumstances baring what eminent domain "technically" is, in this context its a lawful act of the state for the benefit of the greater good. If one doesn't like it, then change the law, right? Thought it would be unfair not to point this out. In a moral sense I can agree with opponents on this, but on the letter of the law you have to side with the state and those who have signed on with the social contract of the state.

On 6/20/2021 at 3:17 PM, gmac said:

I consider eminent domain by a private company to be theft. You don't.

I wish TCR all the worst in their efforts and look forward to a miserable failure of this fairytale project. I promise not to come to y'all's giddy party if this thing actually gets built 🤣

I'm sure there won't ever be a situation where the reverse is true and its something that you want. No that will NEVER EVER happen at all. I don't know, maybe consider the thought.

On 6/21/2021 at 8:20 AM, Houston19514 said:

Perhaps what you are meaning to say is that you wish the law considered all eminent domain by all private companies to be theft.  But that is not the law. The law clearly allows for eminent domain by certain private companies in certain situations; ergo, in those situations, it is, by definition, not theft. This is simply not a matter of opinion.

Agree.

On 6/21/2021 at 12:46 PM, samagon said:

do you feel the same for freeways, or any government infrastructure projects?

is it just private companies?

how about railway used for freight? how about pipelines?

CenterPoint isn't a government entity, how about if they need to build a new powerline so that power can reach the new subdivisions out in the Katy Prairie, but in order to do so, they have to buy land from a rancher?

 

I'm just going to say right now. A waste of breath asking these questions. At this point, this a not about reason, or intellectual honesty, but its simply about presenting a stance which signals "I'm part of this tribe here, and you are part of that tribe. My tribe good. Your tribe bad." This is also why potentially this same person will be for the side of ED for one thing over the other, but its not logically consistent. It doesn't matter. Its a idea that denotes an affiliation with a team or tribe. Its like me trying to argue with a Texas Longhorn that the Texas A&M Aggies are better haha. The merits don't matter in this case, just who thinks they have more power and authority behind their position.

Edited by Luminare
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It would help if the people who want TCR built no matter what had some empathy for the people who will lose land they didn't want to sell, probably at below market price because that's what usually happens, rather than just saying "F the landowners, me getting to Dallas on rail is more important than their feelings".

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Well that's why the details actually matter. Are people losing their land, or are they losing a portion of it as an easement? Is it on packed earth (and effectively a wall) or a viaduct? Are they receiving fair market value or not? 

Those of us against all or parts of the I-45 expansion are generally opposed to specific impacts on specific communities primarily. Also some of us believe there are just better ways to use billions of dollars to improve local transportation, but that doesn't apply to a privately developed railroad (that I admittedly support conceptually anyway).

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5 hours ago, Texasota said:

Well that's why the details actually matter. Are people losing their land, or are they losing a portion of it as an easement? Is it on packed earth (and effectively a wall) or a viaduct? Are they receiving fair market value or not? 

Those of us against all or parts of the I-45 expansion are generally opposed to specific impacts on specific communities primarily. Also some of us believe there are just better ways to use billions of dollars to improve local transportation, but that doesn't apply to a privately developed railroad (that I admittedly support conceptually anyway).

This is why above I point out its important to try to maintain reasonable consistency in arguments such as this. Its why I'm both for TCR and I-45 Expansion. Both help transit, both use ED, both are billions of dollars in costs, both will take years to finish, both are not perfect but will help move us to a better place. While I do lean more on the side of TCR than I-45 I can also understand the necessity of expanding probably one of the busiest and most important arteries in the city. Will I-45 be more destructive? Maybe? Probably? Will TCR be just as destructive? Maybe? Probably Not? Either way we do have to consider that in the positions of whoever is in the way we have to put ourselves in their shoes and remember that while the rest of us gain they do lose (even if its in the short term). Then again losing property is a double wammy because owning and holding property is one of the easiest ways to secure wealth and is an appreciating asset. Important to keep in mind.

Also remember that your comment "some of us believe there are just better ways to use billions of dollars" is literally mirror version of GMAC's statement. No better or worse. An inverse and mirror imagine. In this thread though TCR reigns as it should as its what this topic is about, but in the I-45 context its the highway that rules. Both sides can (and probably will) ultimately get what they want which is expanded options for transit in whichever they prefer because if Houston is become the top city it is destined to be, all hands need to be on deck.

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19 hours ago, Ross said:

It would help if the people who want TCR built no matter what had some empathy for the people who will lose land they didn't want to sell, probably at below market price because that's what usually happens, rather than just saying "F the landowners, me getting to Dallas on rail is more important than their feelings".

If those folks weren't consistently sabotaging what people in the cities want, with their outsized political influence, maybe, just maybe, their crocodile tears would get through.

 

But this has never been about landowners who don't want to sell - they don't exist (since it's just an easement they're selling - any opposition is negotiating for a better deal). It's the neighbors who are annoyed that they aren't getting a cut of the pie in any sense that are trying to scuttle this. Just petty rural politics.

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3 hours ago, ADCS said:

If those folks weren't consistently sabotaging what people in the cities want, with their outsized political influence, maybe, just maybe, their crocodile tears would get through.

 

But this has never been about landowners who don't want to sell - they don't exist (since it's just an easement they're selling - any opposition is negotiating for a better deal). It's the neighbors who are annoyed that they aren't getting a cut of the pie in any sense that are trying to scuttle this. Just petty rural politics.

There are a lot of people in rural areas who don't want to lose any of their property, even if it's just an easement. A friend who has 530 acres near Victoria had to give in and sign the papers for a pipeline easement after his attorney told him that it wasn't worth fighting. So, he now has a 2400 feet long 50 feet wide clear cut easement running diagonally through the most wooded part of his land. He did not want the pipeline, he didn't want the money, he just wanted his land left alone. The pipeline could have changed the route to run along the road, but that might have cost them more, so screw landowners. The construction also destroyed an entire hunting season on the most productive portion of his land, running from mid-November through March.

I don't think you can speak for all of the affected landowners and claim they are just holding out for more money. You don't know them, you have never met them, and you have no clue how the rail might impact them. You just sit there in your chair, holding up a big middle finger to them and their lives, simply because you want your life easier. 

The rail should have been routed along the freeways to minimize impacts on rural areas. After looking at the maps on the project site, it is obvious that their claim that they would use existing power line easements is a lie. Their own maps show them taking right of way adjacent to the power lines, requiring the removal of millions of trees. So much for being green. Here's the alignment  map page https://www.texascentral.com/alignment-maps/

I am not affected by rail. I will never be taking rail to Dallas, since I will continue to drive to get there, which costs far less than any of the proposed fares. If it gets built, and fails, then the investors need to lose every damn dime they put in it. 

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