Governor Gives GOP Detractors and Rural Allies
New Cause for Outcry with Fast Track Train Vow
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
October 7, 2020
Governor Greg Abbott has come off the sidelines with a bang in the fight over the establishment of high speed rail in Texas with a pledge to the top leader in Japan to help get a bullet train that a company in his country will built on the fastest possible track.
Abbott gave the Texas Central Railway project a glowing endorsement in a letter last week to Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in a move that's sure to ignite a new round of criticism from conservative Republicans and rural moderates who've been fighting the fast train as an intrusion on private property rights in the Lone Star State.
Abbott told Suga that all of Texas Central has secured all of the governmental permits that it needs to get the project off the ground after encountering stringent opposition in the courts and the regulatory process at the state and federal levels.
“The venture has my full support as Governor of Texas, and I am hopeful that final negotiations of this project with Japan can be concluded so that construction can begin," the Republican governor said in the communique on October 2. "Public support and momentum are on our side, and this project can be completed swiftly."
Abbott said he'd been briefed about the Shinkansen high speed rail system on a trip to Japan last fall when he took a test ride on the speedy train from Nagoya to Tokyo. The two cities are a five-hour drive apart in a car. But the Shinkansen N700 train got the governor to his destination in an hour and a half along the island nation's southeast coast.
"This is the same system which will be used in Texas," Abbott added.
After staying out of the fray for the most part during the last two legislative sessions, Abbott has given his critics on the hard right another weapon to use against him in a state where they've been outraged by the emergency measures that he's taken during the coronavirus crisis to protect the public health and safety.
"Seriously, had he gone mad?!!" Texas Senate hopeful Shelley Luther tweeted on Tuesday after learning about the Abbott letter to Suga - a veteran politician who'd been elected two weeks before receiving the progress report from the governor.
But Abbott's enthusiastic intervention on the part of Texas Central's plans for a high speed line from Dallas to Houston won't sit well with GOP lawmakers from rural districts where some people will be displaced in the process of eminent domain.
more to come ...