Dave Moore, Staff Writer
A Texas state appellate court ruled on Thursday, May 7, that Texas Central is – in the legal sense – an operating railroad, reaffirming the high-speed rail project’s authority needed to continue the project toward completion.
“This decision confirms our status as an operating railroad and allows us to continue moving forward with our permitting process and all of our other design, engineering, and land acquisition efforts,” Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in a media release yesterday.
The decision by the Thirteenth Court of Appeals of Texas came after a four-year legal battle involving landowners in Leon County, who claimed the Texas Central project could not be considered a railroad, and thus, didn’t have the legal footing to exercise its power of eminent domain, or to access property to conduct surveys.
In her memorandum opinion, Justice Nora Longoria wrote, “Having found that the appellants (Texas Central Railroad and Infrastructure, Inc., and Integrated Texas Logistics, Inc.) are both railroad companies and interurban electric railways, we conclude that the trial court erred by granting (landowner’s) motion for summary judgment and denying appellants’ motion for partial summary judgment.”
Matt Garcia, the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy, said the ruling advances the project significantly.
“The legal designation for Texas Central to be recognized as an operating railroad is a major step forward to making high-speed rail a reality in Texas,” he said. “There are several permitting steps ahead that the company must meet, but the ability to acquire land through eminent domain is key.”