WEST COLUMBIA — The Brazoria-Fort Bend Rail District decided Monday not to release the entirety of the data it will use to determine a possible route from Port Freeport to Highway 59 in Rosenberg.
The Board of Directors unanimously approved the decision at a brief meeting Monday after they tabled it Aug. 16, according to the agenda.
Residents have demanded the district board be open about possible routes for rail lines that would run from Port Freeport to Highway 59 in Fort Bend County, and the board voted in July to release information regarding all drafted routes, The Facts previously reported.
Board Member Brian Devine’s Aug. 16 motion was to rescind the July 19 motion to “vet all routes with the (Citizen Advisory Panel) and limit CAP consideration to the three routes determined by HDR as the most favorable,” the agenda states.
Directors wanted to touch base with all of their sponsors and elected officials before accepting a recommendation to only share the most feasible routes with the public, Board Vice President Earl Shipp said.
“The feedback that we’ve received from them collectively and consistently was that we should stick with the HDR work, show the most feasible routes that are possible and use those for the feasibility study,” Shipp said. “At the end of the feasibility study, we will pause, get back with our sponsors and decide on the next steps and the right course of action.”
Devine chose to keep his motion as it was Aug. 16 at Monday morning’s meeting.
“(I) motion to get it down to what HDR presented to us, because more importantly, we just gotta get the feasibility study,” Devine said. “We don’t even know if we have a business yet.”
While board member Chris Martin previously wanted to present every single route option, feasible or not, to the district’s Citizen Advisory Panel, The Facts reported, he was part of the unanimous vote for Devine’s motion.
The planning-level feasibility study will determine whether a rail line should be constructed to increase distribution and reduce traffic as more shippers use Port Freeport, which is expanding its shipping channel to accommodate larger ships.
The study team will examine the feasibility of different route corridors and make three recommendations to the federal Surface Transportation Board on where the rail lines could run, The Facts previously reported.
Also at Monday’s meeting, regular attendee Rob Giesecke, who lives near Damon off Highway 36 and opposes the rail line being on or near his land, urged the board to inform landowners in the more western areas of Sweeny, Matagorda and Wharton if the rail’s path could come anywhere near them, rather than assuming they might found out on their own.