Leon County residents celebrate judge's ruling on proposed bullet train
Brazos Valley residents fighting a high-speed rail project are calling the latest court decision a victory.
But the private train company, Texas Central maintains its project is still rolling along.
On Friday 87th District Judge Deborah Evans said in a ruling Friday that Texas Central is not a railroad.
Barbara and James Miles are at the center of that court case. They took Texas Central to court.
"When you take 40 acres of mine in the middle of my place out you ruin me you know,?" said James Miles. He told KBTX he fought to protect his property.
"We actually won because we fought them. And that's a whole name of the game," he said. "If you want something bad you fight for it you know and my land rights, is very important to me," he said.
He and many other landowners in the area gathered at the courthouse in Centerville for an update on their fight.
"We are being heard today and the message is loud and clear. Pack up and go home Texas Central. There's no place for you in rural Texas," said Barbara Miles.
Blake Beckham the Miles' attorney said it boils down to eminent domain.
"Texas Central had no authority and therefore had no rights to eminent domain. Ladies and gentlemen this project can't be finished without eminent domain and the project is completely off track," said Beckham.
"It’s not been an easy fight. On behalf of Texans Against High-Speed Rail we have fought Texas Central and the federal government," he added.
“In reality, you know an appeal will take years, many years and like I said we intend to take it all the way to the top," said Kyle Workman, with Texans Against High-Speed Rail. "You know they can continue to say that things are going forward and they can continue to pretend," he said.
Texas Central says they disagree with Judge Evans' ruling. They told KBTX they plan to appeal and they continue to have conversations with property owners in Leon County about the company's land purchase program.
Workman added the fight is far from over.
"We don’t know what the future holds," he said. We just know what our resolve is and all the resolve of the people in this room," said Workman.
State Representative Ben Leman was also there and said he'll be introducing legislation to fight the bullet train.
Several area Sheriff's including from Grimes and Leon Counties said they'll uphold trespassing laws if landowners don't want their property surveyed.
The bullet train would connect Dallas to Houston in 90 minutes. There would be a stop in the Brazos Valley.
Statement from Texas Central on Leon County court decision: Texas Central to appeal the ruling that goes against a previous legal outcome
We respectfully disagree with the judge’s decision in Leon County and plan to appeal. We are confident that the laws of Texas irrefutably give this project authority to access and survey private land to help determine the high-speed train’s most advantageous route between Houston and North Texas.
Contrary to what others have said, a judge in Harris County previously declared that Texas Central is a bona fide railroad company, affirming its rights under state law to conduct surveys on private property to help determine the train’s most advantageous route between North Texas and Houston.
That order held that Texas Central is a “railroad company” as defined in Section 81.002 of the Texas Transportation Code and an “interurban electric railway” as set forth in Section 131.011. In this instance, Texas Central completed the survey work and subsequently withdrew the legal action.