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updated 3:04 AM, Nov 27, 2020 America/Chicago

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White makes statement on light rail project

JasWhite 102220BETH FAIRCLOTH | TCB State Representative James White (R-Hillister) speaksto the Tyler County Republican Women group last Thursday at the group’s monthly meeting. Terri Simpson (left) and Kathy Hodges-Spoon (middle) of TCRW listen to White.

By Chris Edwards

AUSTIN – Rep. James White (R-Hillister) is one of several Texas lawmakers who are urging Gov. Greg Abbott to ignore “misinformation” about a proposed high-speed rail project.

The project, which would be under the oversight of the Federal Railroad Administration, if brought to fruition, is a proposed 240-mile high-speed railway system to travel between the Dallas and Houston metropolitan areas, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. In a TxDOT news release, a private entity, Texas Central Railway (TCR) is funding and developing an environmental study for the project.

White said that the project does not have any permits, at present, to begin construction, and also lacks public support.

White and several other members of the Texas House of Representatives sent a letter to Abbott last week with their concerns about the project. The letter claims that information available about the project features “inaccurate talking points and promotion of ideas consistent with the liberal Green New Deal.”

The Green New Deal, which White referenced, is a proposed package of federal legislation aiming to address climate change and economic inequality.

Another concern White addressed, which constituents have shared with him, is that eminent domain might be used to strip them from their land and homes. “Judges have already blocked the use of eminent domain and county elected officials have publicly denounced the project,” White said.

“We don’t need Japan building our infrastructure, or taxpayer-funded boondoggles such as the Green New Deal on Texas soil,” he said.

Opponents of the proposed high-speed rail have also referenced a letter Abbott wrote to the Japanese Prime Minister praising the project and offering his full support as governor. “I am hopeful that final negotiations of this project with Japan can be concluded so that construction can begin,” Abbott wrote.

A group calling itself Texans Against High-Speed Rail cited both Abbott’s letter to the Prime Minister of Japan and the legislators’ letter to Abbott in a Facebook post, and stated that the legislators who signed the letter “will be strong advocates” for transparency with regard to the project.

White said the governor is reviewing the accuracy and legitimacy of the project. “I urge the governor to listen to my fellow legislators and hear our concerns about protecting Texans’ private property rights from foreign governments,” White said.

According to TxDOT the project, as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth Core Express and Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study may provide alternative methods of transportation within corridors that are experiencing increased congestion due to continued population growth.