A high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas Texas has halted due to a lawsuit by multiple landowners. The lawsuit alleges that the use of eminent domain did not apply to the railway company.
The lawsuit has now reached the highest court in the state and awaits a ruling.
In 2015, Texas Central Partners LLC conducted over 2,000 pre-condemnation surveys. However, landowners filed a lawsuit stating that the company did not have the right to do so. This halted the company’s ability to continue the permitting process to build the $20-billion project between the two metropolitan cities.
A lower court ruled that the state legally recognized the company as a railroad. This entitles Texas Central to the use of eminent domain. Dissatisfied with the ruling, the plaintiffs have appealed to the state supreme court.
The trouble with the application of eminent domain, according to the plaintiffs, is the definition of a railway. Since the rail line does not operate yet, the plaintiffs feel the definition is a stretch based on Texas law. They further contend that without a hearing, the company cannot claim eminent domain.
The appellate court granted eminent domain to Texas Central because of the work they have already done to complete the railway. They have shown that the train will operate on running tracks, even if that start date is not currently planned until 2026.
The court case has delayed the construction project and required the expertise of lawyers in construction law. The disruptions have impacted the project that the company hopes moves forward in the near future depending on the decision of the highest court.