Texas Bullet Train Project Takes Big Step Forward: Your Texas Roundup
Plus: The Rockets continue to roll, Ezekiel Elliott returns from his suspension, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denies rumors that he plans to resign.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We at Le Bilboquet feel betrayed and sad. Restaurant business is about creating a hospitable environment for all, a non-partisan, non-politicized, nondiscriminatory and respectful environment. The fact that guests decided to use our restaurant as a platform to promote, disrespect, and spread hatred goes against everything we stand for.”
—Stephan Courseau, owner of the Dallas restaurant Le Bilboquet, in a Facebook post, according to the Dallas Observer. Courseau wrote the message after Donald Trump Jr. posted a picture with Senator Ted Cruz at a private party at the restaurant. In the photo, Trump held a cookie cake decorated with Barack Obama’s face made out of frosting.
Texas is one step closer to having a bullet train connecting Dallas and Houston. The long-delayed project, which would carry Texans between the two cities in 90 minutes, cleared a major hurdle after the Federal Rail Administration released a draft environmental impact statement identifying a route between the two major cities and potential passenger station locations along the way, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The analysis took four years to complete. Now begins a consultation and land acquisition process, and a public comment period will run through late February before the FRA makes a final statement. “This is the biggest milestone to date that we’ve crossed so far,” Tim Keith, president of Texas Central Partners—the company developing the project—told the Express-News. “This is actually the beginning of a document that will allow us to build the bullet train.” The project is expected to cost $12 billion, and it should have a midway station in the Brazos Valley near College Station. If the project flies through the coming federal approval processes, construction could begin as early as late 2018 or early 2019, with an expected completion in 2023.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
The Houston Rockets’ winning streak continued on Monday night when they beat the Utah Jazz 120-99 for a fourteenth victory in a row, according to KHOU. They’re the hottest and best team in the league, with a phenomenal 25-4 record. The team has been typically prolific on offense, scoring 115 points per game—behind only the Golden State Warriors—with James Harden’s league-leading 31.3 points per game. But arguably more impressive has been the team’s uncharacteristically stingy defense. The Rockets are allowing opponents to score nearly six fewer points per game than last season. If Houston continues to play this way, then James Harden will likely earn his first NBA MVP award, and the Rockets could emerge from a crowded field as favorites to win the NBA championship.
Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension stemming from domestic violence allegations is over, and the star running back can return to action for the Dallas Cowboys against the Seattle Seahawks on Christmas Eve. The Cowboys are in the thick of a playoff race and could certainly use Elliott’s talent, but he hasn’t played since November 5 and could be rusty. After Elliott met with head coach Jason Garrett and running backs coach Gary Brown on Monday, Garrett was noncommittal on how he planned to bring Elliott back into the fold for the team’s final two games of the regular season. “Just have to wait and see,” Garrett said, according to ESPN. “Got to see how he is [Tuesday], got to see how he practices as the week goes on.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson didn’t take kindly to a reporter’s question about rumors that the Wichita Falls native is going to resign, according to Business Insider. During a joint appearance at the State Department with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a reporter asked Tillerson, “have you already submitted a letter of resignation with an effective date in January?” There has been a steady wave of rumors and reports speculating about Tillerson’s exit almost since his confirmation in January, and he’s had a rocky tenure, clashing with President Donald Trump and facing upheaval and resistance within his own department. But Tillerson didn’t appreciate the reporter’s effort to clarify his cloudy future in Foggy Bottom. “That’s ridiculous,” Tillerson responded to the reporter. “It’s a ridiculous question.” He then abruptly left the podium and ended the press conference.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Investigators are trying to track guns that were stolen during Harvey Houston Chronicle
Texas’s own Slingin’ Sammy Baugh lived his last days as a reclusive cowboy WBUR
The agriculture commissioner race is getting heated Texas Public Radio
Mattress Mack gave a houseful of furniture to a Houston family Houston Chronicle
Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels donated his $94 million mansion to charity ESPN