Major railroad project being negotiated in Fannin County - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Major railroad project being negotiated in Fannin County

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BONHAM -- A new tourist attraction is back in the works for Fannin County.

The Fannin Rural Rail District is leading the effort to develop miles of railway that it says would come with substantial economic benefits.

"We are trying to bring economic development and growth and jobs to Fannin County," Price Bradshaw, secretary & treasurer for the FRRD, said.

This week, the district accepted a new proposal from a Frisco-based company called North Texas Pacific, Inc.

The proposal lays out a plan to run an "historic steam excursion train" along eight miles of track.

Its parent company already operates a similar attraction in Florida.

"They will cross some of the prettiest scenery in Fannin County," Bradshaw said. "Sloan Creek, Bois d'Arc Creek and the wooded areas between."

Bradshaw says the last time a train used the railroad between Bonham and Paris was 1998.

It's since been purchased, and is still owned, by the Texas Department of Transportation.

The Fannin Rural Rail District operates under TxDOT and has been trying to develop the railroad for years.

The district says opening the line would bring at least 30 new jobs, create an attraction for tourists, and give agricultural and industrial suppliers in the area a cheaper way to import and export products.

But, not everyone is on board.

Some opposed to the idea point to state records showing North Texas Pacific's right to do business was "involuntarily ended" by the state because it either didn't file a franchise tax report or pay a franchise tax.

But, North Texas Pacific says it is up-to-date on its franchise tax report filings, but didn't owe any taxes since it hasn't done business in Texas for years. A company accountant said it plans to look into why its status with the state reflects otherwise.

"Dissension is good. It gives you both sides of the equation," Bonham Mayor Roy Floyd said. "But at the same time, you've got to look at what's positive for Bonham and Fannin County."

Mayor Floyd and the Fannin Rural Railroad District say their big-picture plan to develop the area remains in place, a goal that now seems to be becoming a little clearer.

The deal is still in the very early stages.

Final approval must come from the state.