High-speed rail line not urban vs. rural issue

Southeast Texas residents who oppose a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston have every right to do so, but if they want to build credibility they should be a bit more careful about what they say.

Some of the opposition comes from the Sam Houston Tea Party, which has more than 400 members. Many of them showed up last week at an informational public meeting in Huntsville.

One representative, Linda Thompson, afterward told Star-Telegram reporter Gordon Dickson the project reminded her of Gov. Rick Perry’s now-defunct plans for the Trans Texas Corridor.

That comparison might be a good for firing up the emotions of people who remember the TTC, but the projects are far from similar.

Perry proposed the Trans Texas corridor, a 4,000-mile web of toll roads, rail lines and utility corridors crisscrossing the state, in 2002.

It was dead by late 2009, mortally wounded by its $185 billion cost and opposition to the seizure of massive amounts of land to build it.

Texas Central Railway, a private company, would build the high-speed rail line, mostly in existing rail corridors, and pay all of its estimated $10 billion cost.

Worse was Thompson’s attempt to drive a wedge between Texans.

“We’re putting in a rail line that’s going to serve the city dwellers,” Thompson told Dickson in a phone interview. “It doesn’t appear that, other than during the construction phase, there will be any jobs for the rural areas going forward.”

Thompson was right: Rural Texans contribute a lot to our economy. But so do “city dwellers.”

The question is really how much the high-speed rail line would contribute.