Proposed high-speed rail could impact Houston property values

Joe Martin | Houston Business Journal

The Texas Central Railway project is moving forward with community meetings in the Houston area to examine the impact of a potential rail line passing through some of Houston’s oldest neighborhoods, raising fears of devalued property.

The Federal Railroad Administration and the Texas Department of Transportationare completing an environmental impact study for the railway, which, if built, could be online by 2021. The FRA and TxDot are taking public comments on the routes until Jan. 9, according to the environmental impact study website.

During a public town hall meeting Dec. 18, officials presented the proposed routes, which cut through some of Houston’s older neighborhoods, including Garden Oaks and Independence Heights, on their way to downtown. This has some residents upset.

“(The train) could serve its customers well by not going downtown,” said Mark Klein, president of the Central Northwest Super Neighborhood Council, an area that would be affected by the new train. “By not going downtown, it does not have to disrupt some of Houston’s long-established neighborhoods with a 40-foot-tall structure with noise and trains going by every 30 minutes.”

The train could depreciate the property value of the neighborhoods.

“We’re talking about intruding upon neighborhoods for a small percentage of the population,” Klein told the HBJ.

There have also been grassroots movements, like the Concerned Citizens of Oak Forest, to prevent the train from coming through.

The FRA and TxDOT decided to look at two routes, both of which have the the train coming into Houston from the northwest and not down Interstate 45 where it could have passed through The Woodlands. The routes being studied would bring the train in on either U.S. Highway 290 or the BNSF railway that runs near U.S. Highway 249. The 290 route brings the train along Washington Avenue into downtown Houston, while the 249 route brings the train along 34th Street before coming into downtown Houston along Hardy Street.

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