Texas High-Speed Rail Opponents Target Japan

Opponents of plans to build a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston are taking their case to the government of Japan.

Thirty-three Texas officials have signed a letter to Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae outlining their opposition to the project. Among those who signed the letter are Ellis County Judge Carol Bush and Navarro County Judge H.M. Davenport.

Other county judges and state legislators from areas along the train's proposed route also signed the letter.

The rail line that developers want to build in Texas is similar to the famous Japanese Shinkansen bullet train. It could cost as much as $13 billion to construct, and would be partially financed by Japanese interests. The train would make the 240-mile trip between Dallas and Houston in just 90 minutes at nearly 200 miles per hour.

The letter, which was orchestrated by the group Texans Against High-Speed Rail, says, in part, "We remain opposed to the HSR project because it will cause irreparable harm to our communities."

Opponents fear the use of eminent domain to acquire land for the project and a possible risk to taxpayers.

The letter goes on to say, "We encourage you to seek out a different market where this would provide an actual transportation solution and where you may encounter less opposition."

Kyle Workman, who is president of the opposition group, told NBC 5 there has been no response yet from Sasae.

Texas Central Partners, the private company behind the project, issued a statement in response to the letter. It says, in part, "The recent investment in our Texas project by a leading public-private partnership in Japan shows that this project is of national and global significance, and we expect that kind of interest to continue to grow."

Texas Central has raised more than $100 million so far and has major partners in the U.S., Japan and Spain. It hopes to begin construction on the line as soon as next year.

Texas Central say high-speed rail could pump as much as $36 billion into the state's economy through the year 2040. The project has many high-profile political supporters, including Vice President Joe Biden, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and newly-elected Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

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