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Ranchers still fighting Texas bullet train

Posted at 6:05 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 21:11:39-05

LEON COUNTY, TX — Ranchers that live along the proposed 240-mile route for a high-speed train from Dallas to Houston say the fight to stop the project is far from finished.

At Glenn Mannina's 200-acre spread in Leon County, the Texans Against High-Speed Rail sign posted out front leaves little doubt to where he stands.

"We love our land out here. There's a reason we bought out here. We don't need the development or the damage it's gonna do," said Mannina.

The line would stretch only a few hundred feet from his property. It could cut directly through many of his neighbor's places, and he says the vast majority are going to court or joining advocacy groups to oppose the $20 billion project.

Last week, glossy photos of the proposed train's interior were released around the same time that hundreds attended a community meeting in Grimes County.

Texas Central is still awaiting federal review on several fronts, including an environmental impact study. They hope to break ground later in 2020. The train design and scope mirror what is already a reality in some countries, like Japan.

Mannina has doubts about the timeline.

"As it gets closer, people start feeling it," he said. "They've said that for three years."

He fears the potential environmental impact, not to mention safety risks and ascetic factors for his place and his neighbors.

Texas Central says the project could provide up to 10,000 construction jobs, as well as provide a cleaner alternative compared to air travel or driving. It estimates more than $35 billion in economic benefits across the state over the next 25 years.

Some landowners, like Nancy Beddingfield, have gotten on board with the proposal. Texas Central said she signed a purchase agreement just last week.

In a statement on Tuesday, the company said in part that "Texas has the capacity, drive and population growth needed to make the Texas High-Speed-Train successful and it’s that momentum from across Texas and the country that’s pushing the nation’s first high-speed train forward.”

Separately, attorneys on both sides of a lawsuit regarding the train route and eminent domain squared off in a Waco courtroom on Tuesday. A Texas Court of Appeals decision on the suit is expected later this year.

For more information on the proposed project, click here.