- Critics of the $64 billion California bullet train project have filed a legal action in state Superior Court to stop the project's bond funding, according to The Los Angeles Times.
- The new legal action — which amended a lawsuit filed in December — argues that the California legislature didn't have the right to approve a bill modifying the $9 billion, 2008 voter-approved bond act to pay for work that wasn't directly part of the high-speed rail system work originally outlined for the public.
- Continued legal action has indefinitely delayed disbursement of the bond money, leaving the California High Speed Rail Authority to rely on stop-gap funding. Future federal dollars are contingent on the state matching funds, which rail officials were looking to bond money to provide.
At the heart of the disagreement is the amendment of the bond act to include an additional $7.8 billion system leg and $819 million for electrification of the 52-mile Caltrain Peninsula Corridor railway, which connects San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Balfour Beatty was awarded a near-$700 million contract back in August, in part, to ready the line for when it will be used by the bullet train system. The CHSRA approved a $3.2 billion bond sale to pay for that work, irking opponents who maintained that the legislative action authorizing the spend was unconstitutional and that voters must approve any substantial changes to the terms of the original bond.
Last month, the authority was forced to deny that it was facing a potential $3.6 billion deficit on its first leg from Merced to Shafter, part of the extra work itemized in the lawsuit. The CHSRA denied The Times report and said the newspaper's analysis was built around a confidential risk analysis that was based on project hypotheticals.
This latest development continues the bullet train saga of alleged cost overruns and mismanagement, all seemingly kicked off by another Times story last year, which spurred a series of special legislative hearings after suggesting that the CHSRA was not completely forthcoming in its initial financial and feasibility statements. Since then, the authority has been forced to change its originally projected routes in order to expedite the construction process and save money.