The public comments came as part of the evaluation process from the Federal Railway Administration, the agency which reportedly needs to approve the multi-billion dollar project and commissioned an environmental impact study on how construction may affect the surrounding area.
Attendees said the line to access the meeting extended outside the Woodward Elementary School on Cypress North Houston Road, as residents waited to speak on the project some said they feel could damage their property values and reduce their quality of life.
These views came despite Houston city officials publicly supporting an announced route for the train through Harris County.
Calvin House, who said he owns 350 acres in far west Harris County, attended the meeting, telling a local TV station during an interview the planned route for the track would cut right through the middle of his property:
“You’re going to have a train every 25 minutes traveling over 200 miles per hour, and it sounds like a jet plane going by,” House said.
Crystal Stewart who reportedly owns about 13 acres in Madisonville, northwest of Huntsville told Houston Public Media during an interview the trains could bring adverse impacts on both her property and her mental health:
“It would no longer be the country,” Stewart said. “It would no longer be rural land. It would no longer be the place that I go for serenity, for self-care.”
Some residents said attorneys from Texas Central Railway, the company proposing to build the rail line, contacted their estates, further alleging the calls consisted of threats to take land needed for the train through eminent domain.
Reports claim company officials and residents may be in for a legal battle, since the rail company is privately owned and ground remains unbroken on the project; legal analysts say this places eminent domain claims on shaky legal ground.
This is a developing story.
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) February 2, 2018