Former TxDOT Commissioner Joins Firm Developing Texas Bullet Train
Just over two weeks after announcing his resignation from the Transportation Commission, Jeff Moseley has joined the leadership of a private company developing a high-speed train project between Dallas and Houston.
Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
Just over two weeks after announcing his resignation from the state's Transportation Commission, Jeff Moseley has joined the leadership of a private company developing a high-speed rail project connecting Dallas and Houston.
"I couldn't be more pleased," Moseley said in an interview Monday. "I'm so happy to be asked to join this team on Texas Central related to high-speed rail. It really is a big idea whose time has come."
Texas Central Partners is developing a privately funded bullet train intended to transport passengers between Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes. The effort has drawn significant opposition from the residents in the largely rural communities along the proposed route, many of whom predict the train will be a boondoggle that will ultimately require public subsidies.
Moseley confirmed he stepped down from his seat on the five-member Transportation Commission, which oversees the Texas Department of Transportation, because of the opportunity to work for Texas Central. Moseley's term was set to expire in February.
One of Moseley's responsibilities in his new post will be to communicate information about the multibillion-dollar project to public officials representing counties and cities along the corridor, who in turn will likely field questions from residents.
"When you have a project of this size, you really do need to make sure that as the project progresses that there's timely, accurate information," said Moseley, who added that he will draw on his experiences as Denton County judge, a position he held between 1991 and 1999. "I can help to make sure that county judges, county officials, school district officials, city officials along the corridor are getting that kind of feedback and updates so they have it."
Moseley said he also sees an opportunity to communicate with members of the state Legislature, a number of whom have sought to block Texas Central's project by revoking the company's eminent domain authority.
In 2015, several lawmakers attempted to pass legislation revoking the authority, but the measure failed. Last month, State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, revived the discussion and asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to issue an opinion on whether the company has the right to eminent domain. This month, citing pending litigation involving the same issue, Paxton's office declined to address Cook's request.
Despite these frequent efforts to revoke the authority, Moseley said "the core value of Texas Central is never to use it."
"When we get out and start visiting with landowners, I don't think it will ever be needed," he said. "And that's my goal, to find that dialogue so the communities understand the benefits and the marketplaces involved in the discussion so that eminent domain is never even discussed or having to be used."
Overall, Moseley said he thinks the state should be supportive of the train because it will address dire transportation needs without diverting state funding.
"This is very, very novel and I think it's a very big idea for the state," he said. "It's a big idea for the nation. And here is the private sector stepping forward to say — we want the risk on this. We're not asking for the taxpayers to take any risk. That's the big idea."
Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Gulf States Toyota executive Laura Ryan to fill Moseley's place on the commission. Ryan resigned her post as chair of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles upon her new appointment.
Disclosure: Texas Central Railway has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
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