The Surface Transportation Board, the federal agency with jurisdiction over railroads affecting interstate commerce, has reconsidered its prior determination that Texas Central Railroad and Infrastructure, Inc., and Texas Central Railroad, LLC (collectively, Texas Central)’s proposed rail line between Dallas and Houston was not subject to the Board’s jurisdiction and therefore did not require Board approval. Citing “substantially changed circumstances,” the STB determined that the proposed rail line would be operated as a part of the interstate rail network and therefore subject to Board jurisdiction. This jurisdiction will preempt most state regulation of the rail line. The STB noted that a full application would be required, however, denying Texas Central’s request for a shorthand approval of its project, and that whether or not Texas Central may exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire the right of way necessary for its project is a question of state law.
Texas Central pivoted to federal authorization for its project after numerous state and local interests aligned in opposition to the project. There are still numerous obstacles to the project, including a construction budget that approaches $20 billion. With a B.
McFarland PLLC is monitoring this project on behalf of numerous existing clients and interested private landowners along the proposed alignment of the project.