Sacramento Judge Orders Trial in Suit to Stop High-Speed Rail
A Sacramento judge has ordered a trial in a lawsuit that alleges that the state’s high-speed rail plan fails to comply with promises made in a 2008 bond measure designed to kick-start funding for the project. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny rejected an attempt by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to throw out part of a lawsuit filed by Kings County and San Joaquin Valley farmers and landowners. The section of the suit in question focuses on whether the rail agency’s design for the high-speed rail system complies with requirements set out in Proposition 1A, the voter-approved measure that provides $9.9 billion in bonds for the bullet train. From the Fresno Bee’s Tim Sheehan:
The ruling sets the stage for a trial in which the two sides are expected to present a string of experts to argue over the design of the 520-mile line that would run between San Francisco and Los Angeles through the San Joaquin Valley … Key issues … are likely to be the rail agency’s proposal for a “blended” train system to share improved, electrified tracks on the Caltrain commuter-train line between San Francisco and Los Angeles — something some high-speed rail advocates like former judge and state Sen. Quentin Kopp of San Francisco say is different than what voters were promised in Prop. 1A. Rail opponents add that the blended system will keep high-speed trains from achieving Prop. 1A’s ultimate mandate for a 2 hour 40 minute nonstop ride from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles’ Union Station. Also at issue is whether the system can operate without a public subsidy, as the ballot proposition required.
In November, Kenny ruled in favor of the plaintiffs’ challenge to the bullet train’s funding scheme. The rail agency is appealing the rulings, which ordered the state to rewrite its financing plan for the bullet train and barred the state from selling the Proposition 1A bonds to help finance the first segment of the system, slated to be built in the San Joaquin Valley. Embedded below: Judge Kenny’s Tuesday ruling.Related