Texas Central, developers of the high-speed train between Dallas and Houston, has now signed deals for about 30 percent of the parcels of land it needs to get this thing rolling.
Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar calls it a significant milestone, the result of ongoing negotiations with property owners along the potential route.
The high-speed train will connect North Texas, the Brazos Valley, and Houston in a 90-minute trip.
Option agreements have been made in all 10 counties between the two stops, including 50 percent of the parcels for the proposed route in Waller and Grimes counties. Grimes County will be the site of a Brazos Valley passenger station, a midway stop on the 240-mile line between the state’s top metro areas.
Texas Central's option program compensates owners today in exchange for the right to acquire a parcel at a future date at an agreed price. The option offers are being made in select areas of alignments that are under review as part of the project’s environmental assessment.
"This is a significant step in the progress of the high-speed train and it reflects the positive dialogue we have had with landowners along the route," Aguilar says in a release.
Chris Lippincott, a representative from Texas Rail Advocates, says that the agreements are a victory for transparency.
"The announcement of land agreements in Waller and Grimes counties are particularly laudable considering the intensity of the campaign of misinformation aimed at the residents of those communities," he says in a statement. "Texas Rail Advocates will continue to support open, honest dialogue as our state moves toward a future that includes the option of high-speed train service for business and vacation travelers."
Texas Central has hosted 28 information meetings throughout the 10 counties. More than 3,000 families and businesses signed letters giving surveyors access as part of the environmental assessment.
Some landowners fought against providing access to surveying. Texas Central has withdrawn the remaining 17 cases to allow it to work with all landowners on an amicable approach for permission to survey.
The start date for train service has been pushed back a year, to 2023, according to reports.