Texas Central reaches 'milestone' on land options for high-speed rail
Texas Central announced yesterday that it has reached land option agreements on 30 percent of the parcels needed for its plan to build a high-speed train route between Dallas and Houston. Negotiations have resulted in option agreements in all 10 counties through which the train would travel — a milestone for the company's land option program, Texas Central officials said in a press release. The option agreements included 50 percent of the parcels for the proposed route in Waller and Grimes counties. Grimes County is 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 land 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," said Texas Central Chief Executive Officer Carlos Aguilar. Texas Central officials said they have tried to emphasize a "cooperative approach" in working with land owners. As a result, more than 3,000 families and businesses signed letters giving surveyors access as part of the environmental assessment. A substantial portion of the initial survey work has been completed and is continuing where needed, they said. In those few cases in which Texas Central sought a court decision to allow survey access, conversations with landowners later resulted in an out-of-court resolution in a majority of those cases. Because of "positive collaboration with Texans along the route," as well as the environmental assessment's progress, the company is withdrawing the remaining 18 cases in an effort to reach an amicable resolution with all landowners for the permission to survey, company officials said.