Texas Central Partners inks construction deal for high-speed rail

Staff reports
Posted 9/13/19

Texas Central Partners, the company hoping to build a high-speed rail system between Houston and Dallas that would cut through Madison County, announced Friday that it had signed a design and construction contract with Italian civil engineering firm Salini Impregilo SpA, potentially moving the rail project forward.

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Texas Central Partners inks construction deal for high-speed rail

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Texas Central Partners, the company hoping to build a high-speed rail system between Houston and Dallas that would cut through Madison County, announced Friday that it had signed a design and construction contract with Italian civil engineering firm Salini Impregilo SpA, potentially moving the rail project forward.

In a press release, Texas Central said Salini and U.S. subsidiary Lane Construction Corp. will supply the civil and infrastructure scope for the high-speed train service, including design and construction of the viaduct and embankment sections along the entire route, the installation of the track system and the alignment and construction of all buildings and services that will house maintenance and other rail system equipment.

“This agreement brings us one step closer to beginning construction of the civil infrastructure segments of the project,” Texas Central CEO Carlos F. Aguilar said in the release. “Salini-Lane’s unmatched track record with rail infrastructure, and very specifically its world class high-speed rail expertise across the globe, will be central to the completion of America’s first end to end high-speed rail system.”

Texas Central said the design-build agreement authorizes a set of early works for the joint venture to continue advancing engineering design, detailed planning, interface definition and other key prerequisites necessary to start construction. This agreement is the result of their previous work providing front-end engineering and design for the train's civil infrastructure. Other services included optimizing execution plans, strategies and logistics, as well as performing analysis to develop construction costs and schedule estimates.

The high-speed rail project has been contentious with landowners along the route. The company has claimed that Texas law gives them the right to use eminent domain in order to secure land for the route.

Friday’s announcement represents the second forward movement for the rail in as many weeks. On Sept. 4, the company announced that the Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration had granted a sought-after Rule of Particular Applicability.

An RPA is a project-specific rule that is written for unique projects. With the approval from DOT, the Federal Railroad Administration can begin writing the regulation that will apply to the rail project. It also allows an environmental impact study to move forward.

Opponents of the high-speed rail project disagree that the ruling was actually a step forward.

“This decision is neither a sign of intent to fund or finance the project, nor a commitment to do so, even though Texas Central is inaccurately promoting it as such,” said Taylor Ward, Spokesperson for Re-Route the Route, an advocacy group opposing the project. “This decision is merely a procedural bureaucratic step that will provide all Texans the opportunity to show the federal government what this project really is: unsafe, bad for the economy, and bad for the private property rights of all Texans.”

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