Vulcan Materials traditionally supports railroad links to its quarries and aggregate facilities. Based on Vulcan’s history, threat of eminent domain and private property condemnation to construct a new rail spur is not unrealistic.
In 2017, a Vulcan subsidiary named Southwest Gulf Railroad used eminent domain to condemn property that Medina County landholders refused to sell. Now this Vulcan company is building a nine-mile railway connecting the Vulcan quarry in Quihi to the Union Pacific line near Highway 90.
Vulcan faces a similar situation in Comal County: several miles separate the proposed quarry site from the Union Pacific rail line that parallels Interstate 35. If Vulcan obtains approval for the quarry, their eventual plans are sure to include a connecting railroad spur. Why? Simply put, it’s easier and cheaper to transport crushed rock via rail rather than by truck.
The most likely route for a Vulcan rail spur would run from the quarry site to somewhere around Kruger Canyon Road. This would cut through approximately nine miles of Comal County, running close to or through several residential neighborhoods including Copper Ridge, Durst Ranch, Comal Country Estates, and High Chaparral.
Of course, Vulcan could also choose a more northerly route closer to Texas Highway 46, Vintage Oaks, Copper Ridge, and eventually connecting to the Union Pacific line just north of New Braunfels. Or a more southerly choice might parallel FM 3009, affecting Ramble Ridge, Rockwall Ranch, Lewis Ranch, and linking near Garden Ridge.
Regardless of the exact route chosen, Vulcan’s new rail line would bisect ranches, push down property values, and create noise and air pollution for thousands of Comal County residents and landowners.
These two words should concern every property owner in the State of Texas. Supposedly Texas is a “property rights” state. But through eminent domain, governments are legally entitled to seize ownership of private property for a public use.
Why should you be concerned? After all, Vulcan isn’t the government. However, Vulcan’s subsidiary will likely apply to build a “common carrier” railroad, a classification that theoretically allows other businesses to use the railroad. More importantly to Comal County land owners, common carrier status allows employment of eminent domain to condemn private properties where the owner is unwilling to sell. Of course, property condemnation using the power of eminent domain overrides any restrictive covenants or homeowners association rules.
The proposed quarry puts thousands of homeowners and ranches between the quarry site, New Braunfels, and Garden Ridge at an elevated risk of property condemnation through eminent domain.