Permits and Approvals
Texas Central recently claimed its high-speed rail project is “shovel-ready." At best, this is misleading because of the outstanding permits and approvals needed by the Federal Government.
- Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) must first be approved by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) before construction can begin. The FRA website indicates the estimated completion date is now July 31, 2020, requiring another four months from the earlier posted March 2020 deadline and just the latest additional delay in a series of continuous date push-backs over the years.
- As part of the DEIS process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must first issue a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit signifying that the project will have a minimal impact on wetlands and other “waters of the United States.” However, this permit cannot be issued until the Corps has completed an assessment of every affected property along the route. This evaluation has not yet occurred and cannot occur until the Corps has access to all affected parcels.
- In addition to the Clean Water Act Section 404 permit, the FRA has listed 23 other actions requiring “permit, approval, or review." TCR has not announced the completion of a single such federal action since the project was announced in 2015.
These obstacles - not to mention the inability of TCR to acquire most of the property along the currently proposed route - are hardly indicative of a project that is “shovel-ready.”