Editor's Note: The following story has been edited. The previous story was unedited submission from the candidate.
Supporter say a planned Bullet Train, taking passengers between Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes, will serve millions of riders, create thousands of jobs, and lower the enormous costs of replacing aging roads and bridges.
But Cody Harris, a Republican candidate for the House District 8 seat now held by Byron Cook, sees it differently. He called the company's efforts to secure the right-of-way a “dishonest and deceitful scheme” to attack rural property rights and the “sovereignty of Texas.”
On Friday, Texas Central, which plans to build the $12-billion project, said it would ask the federal government to intervene in an ongoing eminent domain dispute that could stop construction of the high-speed rail line. The Bullet Train is expected to travel at speeds of up to 200 mph.
In 2016, the federal Surface Transportation Board refused to grant federal eminent domain authority to Texas Central Partners, a private company.
Last week, however, Texas Central, in appealing the board's 2016 decision, announced a new partnership with the cash-strapped federal Amtrak system, a quasi-public entity. If the attempt is successful, the federal government could grant Texas Central the authority, under eminent domain, to force Texas landowners to give up their property, with fair payment for compensation.
Eminent domain is the right of the government, or its agent, to expropriate private property for public use.
Harris is running to represent residents of Anderson, Freestone, Hill, and Navarro counties. He blasted Texas Central for what he called its “underhanded attempt to circumvent the Texas Landowners Bill of Rights and use federal authorities to seize land from rural Texas families.” He vowed, as a state representative, to “defend the rights of rural landowners.”
The Republican primary election race is headed for a May 22 runoff between Harris and Thomas McNutt.
The planned Bullet Train would wind through parts of District 8 in Navarro and Freestone counties.
Texas Central maintains the project would generate $36 billion in economic benefits over the next 25 years. It estimates the train would create 10,000 jobs during construction, and 1,000 permanent jobs when the train is fully operating.
Roughly 25 percent of those jobs, the company said, would go to rural counties.
Construction could start early next year; the project would take four to five years to complete.