Texas NIMBYs Are Trying to Sabotage the Dallas-Houston Bullet Train Plan

Illustration for article titled Texas NIMBYs Are Trying to Sabotage the Dallas-Houston Bullet Train Plan

America’s lagged behind Europe and Asia for decades on developing high-speed rail. Now, one of the States’ two most promising HSR plans—building a Japanese bullet train in Texas—is facing more opposition than ever. State officials just sent a letter complaining about the project to the Japanese ambassador.


We’ve reported on Texas Central, the private effort announced in 2012 that’s supposed to build a high-speed trail linking 240 miles between Dallas and Houston. TC is working working with JR Central, the Japanese company behind Shinkansen, the country’s world-famous bullet train that’s fast, clean, and safe. It was also the very first high-speed train built in the world.

Great, right? Well, not everyone supports high-speed rail. Earlier this week, it was reported that Texas officials have apparently sent a letter to Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s ambassador to the US, urging him to nix the export.

Local media, including the Texas Tribune and Houston Press, say that 11 Republican members of the State Legislature, none of whom represent Dallas or Houston but rather smaller towns along the planned route, wrote:

“While we respect your country’s ambitious goal of exporting the Shinkansen technology, as residents and leaders in East Texas, we remain opposed to the HSR Project because it will cause irreparable harm to our communities.”

Their constituents who live within a mile of the planned route have valid concerns: They are worried it’ll infringe on their property, or that they’ll have to deal with noise or trembling ground.

Beyond those typical, reasonable worries (which are also found in California—America’s other state with a big HSR plan), another more compelling complaint is that many of the possibly affected rural communities won’t even be able to access and enjoy the train. Right now, the Texan bullet train’s only two planned stations are the terminals of Dallas and Houston. The Texas Tribune reports that only one other station is planned, near Bryan and College Station, cities that sit smack in the middle of the route.


The $10 billion plan theoretically won’t require public funding, although the Texas Tribune says that Texas Central hasn’t ruled out federal loans. Japan’s own government has invested $40 million of its own. But if citizens hate it, they won’t care how it’s funded. Texas Central claims on its website that it’s studied the locations of interstates, utility corridors, and private property to minimize the route’s impact on landowners as much as possible.

All opposition aside, the company remains confident that it’ll be fully operational by 2021.


[The Texas Tribune and Houston Press]

Image via Texas Central




Let’s be real. This is about revenue for the in-between towns. Some sales tax revenue, but mostly traffic ticket revenue.

A program that shares a bit of money from train ticket sales with these towns would probably be enough to placate them.