In the last one hundred years the area in and near Hockley and Waller has certainly altered as land changed ownership. There are fewer cattle and more expensive homes. Those who have lived in the Waller area for any period of time have seen Nine Bar Ranch and their Santa Gertrudis cattle replaced by the Premium Outlet Mall, HEB and the Cypress Buc-ee’s. Nine Bar owners made the choice to take a generous offer and moved their commercial cattle ranch further west.
Waller and Hockley residents built their homes, their lives and their businesses here for the peaceful pleasure of animals and space; a rural atmosphere near the big city.
This chosen way of life is being threatened, not by generous developers, but by a group of investors from Houston and Japan. The proposed Texas Central Railway is attempting to influence our congressmen and women into believing this high speed train is a profitable venture. With their help TCR will try to use eminent domain, take our land which is not for sale, and run a bullet train from Houston to Dallas.
We believe this venture will fail. On the website TCR states they are a private company. Since a private company does not have eminent domain powers, landowners would receive a premium for their land which makes the initial right-of-way costs too high. If in fact TCR has obtained the power of eminent domain, a partnership with TxDot exists which negates their claim of being a private company. This forces at least partial costs to the taxpayers. Additionally TCR boasts a projected number of paying riders that is not feasible. Texans currently have two ways of travel between these cities: personal vehicle and air. As proven by the number of airline passengers, personal vehicles are the obvious preferred mode. Whether due to the cost, the hours wasted traveling to and from the terminal, TSA screening or the requirement of additional transportation once arriving at their destination, Texans have chosen personal vehicles.
For additional consideration one only needs to compare the number of vehicles using the HOV lanes versus the other lanes. If the projected number of passengers should come close to the TCR estimate, retail business along I-45 would suffer. If still enamored by the idea of riding a sleek quiet train, further investigation reveals the Texas train would be a forty year old steel rail model. A local poll also shows few interested in riding the train for more than a one-time see-what-it’s-like trip. Families with children choose personal vehicles. Businessmen choose airlines. Neither of these threaten to destroy the landscape Texans boast of.
The obvious reason TCR has chosen the route through western Harris, Waller, Grimes, Leon, Freestone, Madison, Limestone, Navarro and Ellis counties is their belief that rural land is less valuable while being less populated. Montgomery County is also not out of the equation. Are Texans living the dream less important than the few hoping to make millions from a train destined to fail?
Waller County Advocacy Group has formed with the primary goal of derailing the Texas Central Railway. Of importance to Waller County, City of Waller and Hockley residents is that the train would begin in Houston and end in Dallas, with no stops along the route. It would bring no permanent jobs to our area. No retail benefits exist but it would be the proverbial Berlin Wall should one need to get to the other side. Buses would be traveling further to reach homes and schools due to lack of access except on major roads. Fire and Emergency vehicles would be forced to travel extra miles to reach heart attack victims or fires. Costs to provide those services rise. Where does that money come from? Taxes. Therefore, no matter what city or county, all Texans will be affected. Think about it.
Waller County Advocacy Group’s mission statement is ‘Citizens joined together for the citizens of Waller County’. This train is not the first intrusion of Waller County, nor will it be the last. We are in it for the duration. Visit WCAG.org or WCAG.com to stay current on this very real threat.