The Brazoria-Fort Bend Rail District board decided to push back a public meeting with HDR Engineering after several complaints from residents about the projected rail routes, said Robert Laza, executive director of the district.
The meetings with HDR Engineering were originally scheduled for Nov. 12 and 13, but the board decided to defer the meetings until the citizens advisory panel could meet a couple more times, Laza said.
“Basically, we heard from several residents both for and con for the rail, mostly con because of property values,” Laza said. “The board did decide to defer the public meeting that HDR wants to hold until after a couple more CAP meetings. I think it was a general feeling that the CAP did not have adequate time to review the material before (the scheduled meeting).”
Several residents and elected officials across Brazoria, Fort Bend, Wharton and Matagorda counties went to Friday’s meeting in Rosenburg to speak about how the recently released proposed rail segments might affect them or their property, CAP member Rob Gieseke said.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Gieseke said of the meeting’s delay. “We’ve had the first meeting already. I haven’t heard anything about scheduling for the second CAP meeting. If it doesn’t happen in the first part of December, it’ll get really hard to schedule. I think pushing it back is giving people more time. People in Wharton and Matagorda had no idea” the rail segments would affect them.
Officials have been studying the feasibility of building a rail line to run from Freeport to Highway 59 in Kendleton. Advocates believe it would be more a economical and safer alternative to increased truck traffic as more cargo passes through Port Freeport for distribution elsewhere in the country, The Facts previously reported.
Residents against the project feel it’s not viable — and also unfair to landowners whose homes and property will be negatively affected, Gieseke said.
While the public meeting doesn’t have a set time, Laza hopes it’ll be in the first week of December.
”Many people had called and asked for more time at the public meeting,” Laza said. “What we’re hoping the panel does is serve as communication line and explain reasons certain things are happening to the board.”
With the meeting pushed back, Gieseke said he doesn’t know how it’s going to help solve the overall problems residents could potentially face.
“I don’t know that it’s gonna make that much difference,” Gieseke said. “I’m not gonna do the work for the elected officials. ... They have not made a case why this thing is economically viable.”