The company behind the plans for a multi-billion dollar bullet train project in Texas can't even seem to get out of the starting gate.
The company, Texas Central, is in the midst of seeking out a $12 billion federal loan for the project, but also happens to owe $623,000 in delinquent property taxes, according to a new report from the Houston Chronicle.
The company owes "at least" that amount, according to a brief filed with the Texas Supreme Court in an ongoing condemnation lawsuit by several counties where the train is supposed to run.
The brief charges: “If (Texas Central) cannot afford to pay less than $1 million in property taxes, how will it ever be able to raise the $30-plus billion it needs?”
Waller County Judge Trey Duhon, who supports a group called Texas Against High Speed Rail called the project a “dead man walking.”
“They just don’t want to come out and say they are dead in the water. But look at what is happening, you have to be in financial straits to not pay your property taxes,” he commented.
Houston and Dallas, meanwhile, have both been supportive of the project, the report notes.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner commented: “I believe in technology. We need to regain that momentum and get that bullet train built.”
Commenting on the property tax issue, Turner spokeswoman Mary Benton commented: “The mayor is a proponent of high-speed rail and believes the project would positively impact the city and state once it is built.”
Texas Central's property taxes owed are mainly on properties that it bought in anticipation of construction. The company "has been aggressively buying properties it knows it will need for the current route."
Opposition to the project has come mainly from rural areas between the two major cities. Residents are concerned the project will deface farms and praries.
“When it comes to people's property and their land, we are not going to take it lightly,” Duhon concluded.