After nearly six years of pounding the drum for a Dallas-to-Houston bullet train, CEO of Texas Central Carlos Aguilar is resigning.
Aguilar announced the decision to step down on his LinkedIn account. He had been leading the charge for a Japanese-technology-powered Dallas-to-Houston high-speed train since 2016.
His decision to resign comes ahead of a pivotal Texas Supreme Court case that could decide the fate of the train. With Aguilar now out of the picture, plans to move forward with the high-speed rail seem unlikely.
"I am immensely proud of the achievements of our team, gaining among many other accomplishments, end-to-end regulatory approvals for the first true high-speed rail project in our nation’s history," Aguilar wrote on LinkedIn. "This was a most conscientious and complex endeavor, carefully addressing concerns from landowners, stakeholders, and providing opportunities to all sectors of our society, a first for U.S. infrastructure."
The former Texas Central CEO shared his desire for the Dallas-to-Houston rail to come to fruition and hopes the details can be ironed out without him.
"While I could not align our current stakeholders on a common vision for a path forward, I wish the project the greatest success and remain convinced of the importance of this venture for the safety and prosperity of all Texans," Aguilar wrote.
Texas Central's proposed high-speed rail project was estimated to cost roughly $30 billion and would travel from Dallas to Houston in just 90 minutes, according to Texas Central.
Despite the hefty cost to build the bullet train system, the firm behind the proposal projects the rail to generate enough jobs and economic activity to justify the investment.
The proposed bullet train between Dallas and Houston could pump more than $36 billion into the state economy over the next 25 years, including more than $2.5 billion in local and state taxes, according to a study commissioned by the private firm developing the project.
By bridging the gap between two of the most economically prosperous cities in the state, Texas Central hopes to make the Lone Star economy more fluid.
The company also argues that taking cars off the roads and replacing them with improved public transit will do wonders for the environment and economy.
Many Texas landowners, particularly those whose properties were along the proposed rail line, opposed the plan.
James Miles of Leon County sued Texas Central in 2019 challenging whether the company has the authority to use eminent domain to take property for the project.
Blake Beckham, an attorney representing Miles, described Aguilar's resignation as "wonderful news."
"Carlos Aguilar has confirmed what we all knew implicitly, that this project is dead," Beckham said, adding that Texas Central has not applied for necessary permits or begun certain regulatory approval processes.
Beckham also said the fact that Texas Central is not seeking a replacement for a project leader is a sign of how dead in the water the plans for the high-speed rail are.
"The public is not in their favor, the landowners are not in their favor, the law isn't in their favor and the finances aren't in their favor," Beckham said. "The state is not in their favor and now, apparently, their CEO is taking a hike. I believe the project is dead."
Although the plans are not officially retired, the recent resignation of Aguilar doesn't bode well for its chances.
For more information on the proposed bullet train, please visit the official Texas Central website.