The Texas Supreme Court on Friday issued a major decision in favor of developers planning to build a high-speed train between Dallas and Houston.
In a 5-3 vote, justices ruled that Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure Inc. does have the power of eminent domain. That gives the company the legal right to force landowners to sell their property to them.
The case centered on an argument from Texas landowner James Fredrick Miles who challenged the company's eminent domain authority by seeking a clear definition that Texas Central is a "railroad company."
The Supreme Court ruling backed that Texas Central and Integrated Texas Logistics Inc. qualify as interurban electric railway companies under the Texas Transportation Code and can use eminent domain to acquire private properties.
"We are appreciative to the Texas Supreme Court for their time and consideration of this important issue as we continue work on this innovative high-speed passenger train rail," Texas Central said in a statement following the ruling.
But questions remain about the future of the multi-billion dollar project after Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar resigned earlier this month and lingering concerns over unpaid property taxes for the land the company already owns.
"Tax-paying Texans are at risk of having their land condemned by a company that can’t even afford to pay property taxes on the land already under its control," Texans Against High Speed Rail said in a statement posted on Facebook.
The group is vowing to fight any effort to keep the high-speed rail project from moving forward.