Navarro County Speaks Out at FRA Public Forum

Texas High Speed Rail Viaducr
Texas High Speed Rail Viaduct
By Patrick Sparks - Corsicana Daily Sun
Boondoggle, boondoggle, boondoggle. That word was thrown around numerous times concerning the high speed rail. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) hosted a public forum January 29 at the Corsicana Middle School, inviting the residents of Navarro County to give their comments and concerns for its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), concerning Texas Central Railroad's high speed rail project.

Attendees were given three minutes each to stand at a podium and speak their questions or give comment on the DEIS and the bullet train being constructed to connect Dallas and Houston. Among the citizens of Navarro County were also multiple Congressional and Texas House candidates running for office.

For the entire three hours permitted for open comment, every single comment given opposed the construction of the high speed rail; Navarro County came together to let the FRA know they do not want the bullet train to run through its county.

Key note speakers that night include R-Congressional candidates for District 6 Ken Cope and Jake Ellzey: R-Texas House candidates for District 8; Thomas McNutt, Cody Harris, and Linda Timmerman; County Judge H.M. Davenport; and D-Congressional candidate Jana Lynne Sanchez for District 6.

The main arguments repeated by many that night addressed the issue of whether Texas Central Railroad (TCR) has authority to use eminent domain; many Texans believe that the private company does not have proper authority, as county judges state they do not. There were concerns about whether all endangered species along the train route were considered, as Texans were unclear if the DEIS properly represented bald eagles, bats, wild hogs, and other wildlife along the route.

There were concerns about the loss of land and the closure of county roads that could harm the agriculture economy, along with proper compensation of fair market value for property lost. Farmers were concerned about train noise and its effect on herd animals, if the noise would stress animals and hinder produce and performance of the animals.

Another concern brought up by Sheriff Elmer Tanner is that TCR had not attempted to communicate with local emergency responders to give proper procedure on responding to emergencies involving the train. And finally another main argument of Texans is that TCR has Japanese backing due to the company using Japanese technology -- which TCR denies, and TCR would be against President Trump's slogan of "Buy American, Hire American."

Representatives of TCR were present at the FRA public, listening to all Navarro County had to say about the high speed rail project. The Daily Sun conducted a Q&A with TCR which can be found at the end of the article. The questions asked were specifically tailored to the concerns voiced by Navarro County residents at the FRA public forum. Residents are reminded that the DEIS is still in draft form, and changes may be made to the project until final decision by next year.

Navarro County has marked its stance non the bullet train. TCR will need to either make a compelling counterargument providing the benefits of the high speed rail with concrete, irrefutable evidence, or they must be able to reach an agreeable compromise with Texas residents to ensure no one gets short-handed.

High Speed Rail Map Corridor Alternatives
High Speed Rail Map Corridor Alternatives
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High Speed Rail Map Alternative A

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