County takes stand on railway

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Should Texas Central begin construction on a high-speed rail in Madison County, it will need to do so without any help from the Commissioners’ Court.

At the regular meeting Monday, commissioners passed a resolution stating it will decline to close, vacate, alter or abandon any county roads to accommodate the proposed high-speed rail route.

Commissioner Ricky Driskell wasted no time after the agenda item was read before making the motion for approval, and it passed unanimously without discussion.

The resolution states that according to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement released in December 2017 shows that the proposed route will cross at least 37 county roads, and that the court has the sole control over all roads, highways and bridges in the county, and has the authority and obligation to ensure that any crossing of a county road by a railroad company results in the county road being maintained in its proper condition for use by the traveling public.

In light of that commission’s duties, the county is resolute that it will not perform any functions to approve change its roads, and should Texas Central be granted eminent domain, the county intends to maintain the roads for the use intended, the resolution states.

Texas Central representatives last week disputed some of the assertions made in the resolution.

“The Federal Railroad Administration recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) says no public roads will closed, and that private roads that are modified, diverted or closed will not significantly affect emergency response times. In fact, the federal report said many of the traffic modifications potentially would improve emergency response times.

The environmental report also said Texas Central will coordinate with TxDOT or the appropriate local jurisdiction and any potentially affected emergency responders during final design to avoid any appreciable negative impact to emergency response times.

And it said most of the project would be constructed on viaducts to maintain existing road crossings and there will be no at-grade crossings, allowing for free movement of wildlife, pedestrians and vehicles. 

 

Finally, whether roads are proposed to be raised over the rail, altered to reconfigure the crossing, or rail will pass over existing roads, Texas Central will be responsible for the reasonable costs of designing, constructing and maintaining any roads or bridges required for grade separation.”

In a separate matter, the county may soon house prisoners at a slightly cheaper rate now that the Commissioners’ Court approved an agreement with Grimes County.

Currently, the county is housing its prisoner overflow in the San Jacinto County Jail at a rate of $30 per day per inmate. The agreement approved on Monday will allow the county to house excess prisoners in Grimes County Jail at a rate of $28 per day.

In other business, the county:

•approved an agreement with the city of Madisonville regarding firefighting in the county;

•reappointed Patti Rowley as a trustee for the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Brazos Valley.

•approved $2,000 in hotel/motel funds to be used to promote the Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Shop & Stroll events. The request originally was for $3,000;

•approve $2,000 in hotel/motel funds to be used to promote this month’s Madison County Fair;

•approved the annual count law enforcement Racial Profiling reports;

•approved a maintenance agreement with Power Field Services of Dickinson for county emergency generators; and

•proclaimed the month of April as Confederate History and Heritage Month, and will fly the first National Flag for that month.

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