CA bullet train state-bond funding safe — for now
- A California judge has refused to issue a temporary restraining order that would cut off state-backed bond funding for the $64 billion California high-speed rail, according to The Mercury News.
- Critics argued that a portion of $10 million in state bonds, approved by voters in 2008, should not be spent on electrification of another rail line because the spend wasn't included in the original measure. Rail officials said the new law, which was the subject of the lawsuit and authorized spending on electrification, was only intended "to clarify" the original bill.
- Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei has scheduled another hearing for April 19 — a day before the state is supposed to sell a portion of the bonds for the electrification project — to consider a preliminary injunction.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that lawmakers and California Gov. Jerry Brown overstepped their bounds in enacting the new rail legislation and that voters have sole authority to make changes in how rail money is spent. Rail officials said the constant legal actions against the rail has only driven up costs and created delays.
Officials have also argued that the project at the core of the dispute, the 52-mile Caltrain Peninsula Corridor railway connecting San Francisco and Silicon Valley, will benefit the California High Speed Rail Authority's bullet train project as the two systems will share the same tracks one day.
Another obstacle for the rail line emerged last month when the Federal Transit Administration delayed $650 million in federal funding for the Caltrain project pending President Donald Trump's release of the 2018 budget. In an unanticipated turn, the budget proposes eliminating the FTA capital investment program that provides those grants, putting the project, as well as many others, in jeopardy.
Even before Trump made that unexpected pitch, California Republicans said they were intent on killing funding for any project that would benefit the bullet train until they could perform a full audit of its finances and alleged management problems.
The bullet train project has been under intense scrutiny ever since Los Angeles Times reports questioned its viability and the truthfulness of project officials in presentations they had made to state lawmakers prior to gaining approval. Most recently, the Times suggested that the bullet train could end up with a $3.6 billion cost overrun, an assertion that the California High Speed Rail Authority has denied.
- The Mercury News Judge allows California high-speed rail funding to continue
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