There's been a bit of a shake-up at Texas Central Partners, the company working to turn the idea of a Dallas-to-Houston bullet train into a reality.
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On Wednesday morning Texas Central's board of directors announced they'd appointed Dallas real estate executive Tim Keith as the new CEO of the company. Keith, formerly with Hunt Realty Investments, has a history of working in both finance and on infrastructure projects, according to the Dallas Morning News. That background will likely come in handy now that Keith is at the helm of a company trying to build the first bullet train in the United States. TCP estimates line will cost about $10 billion to build and will run from Dallas to Houston with stations in Dallas, Houston and College Station.Texas Central officials have hopes of opening for business in 2021 if all goes well.
The thing is that so far there has already been some fierce opposition to the bullet train project. During the state legislative session Senate Bill 1601, authored by Brenham Republican Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, would have specifically prohibited firms developing high-speed rail projects from using eminent domain. The bill made it out of committee but never gained any traction after that. However, if it had somehow been passed that would have been the end of the bullet train project.
Texas Central is keeping the investment side of things private and is avoiding using government funding to reduce the number of bureaucratic hoops that will have to be jumped through. But the line basically can't be built without the use of eminent domain. However, Texas Central dodged that legislative bullet and is now moving forward with what Keith describes as a “transformational opportunity" for Texas.
At the same time that the company announced a new head honcho, they also announced a new all-Texas injection of private funding. There have been questions raised as to whether anyone would be willing to actually invest in an untried business model, as the Wall Street Journal noted earlier this year. But on Wednesday Texas Central proved that there are some people willing to chip in to see the bullet train become a reality. At the same time they announced Keith as the new CEO, the company announced $75 million in private investments from Texas investors, including John Kleinheinz of Fort Worth, Jack Matthews of Dallas and the former Astros owner Drayton McLane, Jr.