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The Federal Railroad Administration is canceling three upcoming public hearings over Texas Central's high-speed rail project that could connect Dallas and Houston.
Hearings were scheduled to take place in the Dallas area, Houston area and in the small city of Navasota in the coming weeks so the agency could hear public comments regarding the proposed safety requirements the train would operate under.
However, with the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to refrain from holding mass gathers to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the FRA is canceling the hearings and evaluating other options.
"FRA still intends to provide an opportunity for public hearings, and may decide to use a virtual approach to ensure that no FRA action is inconsistent with CDC guidance," said an FRA spokesperson, adding the agency will announce a revised hearing schedule in the near future.
Texas Central, the company developing the project, did not immediately comment on the FRA's decision.
Kyle Workman, chairman and president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, urged the FRA to reconsider. A lot of TAHSR's support comes from rural Texas residents who live in counties the train would cut through.
"Because many of those impacted by this project do not have reliable access to the internet, we urge the FRA to extend the comment period until some point in the future when it is safe to hold public meetings again," Workman said. "Moving forward without this vital input from those impacted the most would be a complete failure of the regulatory process."
Last week, the FRA published a notice of proposed rulemaking. The document details the safety requirements the train would operate under, and was supposed to be the subject of public comment during these three meetings.
Texas Central says the train would connect Dallas and Houston in 90 minutes with a stop in the Brazos Valley.
This article first appeared on www.bizjournals.com
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