Texas Central, developers of the state’s high-speed train, announced today that business leader, entrepreneur and former Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. has joined the company’s Board of Directors.
McLane’s appointment comes as the passenger line connecting the state’s biggest metro areas enters a new planning, engineering and construction phase. The project, including terminal stations in Dallas, Houston and a midway stop in the Brazos Valley, is now undergoing a federal environmental review.
“We have a strong leadership foundation in place and couldn’t be more pleased to have Drayton join us as the high-speed train moves forward. He brings insightful perspectives, thanks to his business expertise and passionate commitment to helping Texans deal with today’s complicated transportation needs,” said Richard Lawless, the board chairman.
The board announcement is the latest significant leadership move by Texas Central, which recently named as CEO design-build executive Carlos F. Aguilar, who has 30 years of experience overseeing major infrastructure development projects. Also, Tim Keith became president, responsible for its capital-raising efforts.
McLane said that as the state’s population continues to grow, high-speed rail is needed to bring about a transportation system that will provide a safe, reliable, predictable and fast service to all. The trains would travel at speeds of 200 mph, whisking riders between North Texas and Houston in 90 minutes.
“I’ve said this many times: In Texas, we work hard, and we dream big. The bullet train is transformational to Texas, and ranks as one of the most visionary solutions to future transportation challenges our state faces. I am honored to be part of this organization,” McLane said.
“The safety, productivity and reliability of a high-speed train is a perfect fit for Texans looking for a better option than traffic-clogged highways or the hassles of airline travel,” he said.
McLane also said he is excited about the economic benefits of the project, expected to pump more than $36 billion into the state economy over 25 years, including providing more than $2.5 billion in local and state taxes, generating 10,000 jobs during each year of construction and boosting development around the passenger stations. Texas Central will not take federal or state grants to build or operate the project.
McLane, a native Texan, oversaw a family grocery business that grew into what is now one of the largest foodservice distributors in the world – McLane Company. Using innovative technology and efficient business practices, he expanded the company into a multi-billion dollar enterprise that Wal-Mart acquired in 1990.
McLane now is chairman of the McLane Group, a holding company comprised of several entities within global logistics, the technology industry and food production.
From 1992 until 2011, he was owner, chairman and CEO of the Houston Astros baseball team. During his leadership, the Astros won five division titles, built a new stadium and played in the team’s first and only World Series.
McLane is a graduate of Baylor University and former chairman of Baylor’s Board of Regents. In 2012, McLane gave the lead donation for the construction of Baylor’s on- campus football stadium, a project that cost $260 million and now bears his family name, McLane Stadium.
He has been involved in many other civic and charitable endeavors, including serving on the Boy Scouts of America National Board, as a member of the board at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and as chairman of the Board of Trustees, Baylor Scott & White Healthcare.
Stepping aside to make room for McLane on the board is former Ambassador to Japan and Australia Tom Schieffer, who first met McLane while Schieffer was president of the Texas Rangers baseball team.
“Having known Drayton for more than 25 years and having introduced him to our high- speed rail project, I am delighted he has decided to accept our long-standing invitation to join the board,” Schieffer said.
“Drayton possesses the highest integrity. His good judgment, experience in transportation and plain old common sense will make him an invaluable member of our team and the board. It will also enhance our ability to get the train built on time and on budget. High-speed rail will be transformative to Texas and I cannot think of anyone who could help us more than Drayton McLane,” Schieffer said.
Schieffer said he remains “convinced that high-speed rail can be transformative to Texas and our nation” and he will continue to support its efforts.