Temple-based business executive Drayton McLane Jr., with businesses in both Houston and Dallas, named chairman as Texas Bullet Train moves forward Says high-speed rail project leverages “the capital and spirit of entrepreneurs,” not taxpayer dollars
DALLAS – 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 been appointed chairman of its board. McLane, who joined the board in January, brings deep experience in business and transportation as the passenger line connecting North Texas and Houston progresses through the planning, engineering and pre-construction phase. “The more involved I have gotten with the Texas Bullet Train the more I realize its positive transformational impact on our state and our nation,” McLane said. “I am a business man who is meticulous about what I get involved in, and I am excited to be leading this project that leverages the capital and spirit of entrepreneurs instead of relying on taxpayer dollars.” “The Texas Bullet Train is a game changing transportation project that may well be the largest private civil construction project ever undertaken in the country, and it is right here in Texas.” McLane said the train is a key solution to the state’s transportation problem as congestion continues to grow with the state’s population. “It is the safest, most reliable way to travel in the world and riders deserve the best,” he said. The trains would travel at speeds up to 205 mph, linking the state’s largest commercial hubs and half of the state’s population in 90 minutes. The project is expected to generate $36 billion in economic activity over the next 25 years. McLane replaces Richard Lawless, who remains as a board member and chairman emeritus. “Richard has our heartfelt thanks for the tireless work on behalf of this project. His effort here and around the globe on behalf of this project has positioned us well to enter a new and exciting stage,” McLane said. “From the very start, he recognized Texas as the ideal spot to deliver the nation’s first true high-speed train. And he rallied Texans far and wide in support of the bullet train.” The announcement comes after Texas Central recently selected Irving-based Fluor Enterprises and The Lane Construction Corporation to handle pre-construction planning, design and engineering services, with WSP USA conducting engineering work on their behalf. These world class firms have a proven track record of building mega-projects across the globe. McLane, a native Texan, oversaw a family grocery business that he 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. As a result, McLane also previously served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Wal-Mart. McLane now is chairman of the McLane Group and other family-controlled companies. Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said, “Drayton McLane’s track record of success with mega-projects and multibillion dollar companies, as well as his enthusiasm to deliver the best transportation system in the world to Texas, will provide unique expertise as the Texas Bullet Train is designed and built.” From 1992 until 2011, McLane was sole 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 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.