January 6, 2017 – HEMPSTEAD, TX: A Travis County District Court on Thursday, January 5th, ruled that the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) has a “duty to coordinate planning with the Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission (Commission) with respect to the implementation of the high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston, Texas…”
The Commission filed suit against James M. Bass in his official capacity as Executive Director of TXDOT in October of last year claiming TXDOT had violated state law requiring TXDOT to “coordinate” planning of the High-Speed Rail (HSR) proposed between Dallas and Houston. Despite repeated requests by the Commission, TXDOT had refused to coordinate with the Commission or address its concerns regarding the proposed high-speed railway.
Section 391.009(c) of the Texas Local Government Code states “In carrying out their planning and program development responsibilities, state agencies shall, to the greatest extent feasible, coordinate planning with commissions to ensure effective and orderly implementation of state programs at the regional level.”
Instead of following the requirements of the statute, TXDOT has been working with Texas Central Rail and the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) on a route for the train through Waller County, without any meaningful coordination with the Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission. In a letter sent to the Commission last year, TXDOT refused to meet with the Commission and stated that it would not participate in further coordination efforts.
“TXDOT was plainly violating state law by refusing to coordinate with and take input from local authorities on the impact of the high-speed railway,” commented Waller County Judge Trey Duhon. “I couldn’t be more proud for our county and the citizens of the state of Texas who have been fighting this high-speed train. The Court agreed that TXDOT has a duty to follow state law and coordinate with our local planning commission prior to any major decisions about our community.”
The Court told TXDOT to meet with the Commission for the purpose of coordination on the high-speed railway project within the next 30-45 days and to listen to what the Commission has to say.
“Today was a critical victory for local control in our great state,” concluded Judge Duhon.
American Stewards of Liberty (ASL) has been guiding the Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission in its efforts to require coordination with state and federal agencies. This state statue is the same provision ASL used to require TXDOT to coordinate the Trans Texas Corridor in 2007, which was ultimately defeated. When TXDOT decided to refuse to coordinate the High Speed Rail with the Waller County Commission, the members decided to sue, therefore securing the first ruling under the 391 provision reaffirming state agencies in Texas must coordinate with planning commissions.