CA high-speed rail critics expected to appeal decision allowing $1.25B bond sale
- Critics of the $64 billion bullet train project in California have said they will most likely appeal a court ruling that denied their request to block a $1.25 billion bond sale, the proceeds of which will fund construction of the high-speed rail, according to the Associated Press.
- Plaintiffs, which include Kings County, CA, and the town of Atherton, CA, tried to stop the sale on the grounds that it would be used for a scope of work not included in the original, voter-approved $10 billion bond, namely the electrification of a 55-mile stretch of Caltrain rail. The California High Speed Rail Authority said the bullet train will one day share that line.
- As an alternative to an appeal, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei said the plaintiffs could refile the lawsuit using new arguments against the sale, but their attorney said they would prefer to appeal.
California officials initiated the bond sale in April. This was the first sale under the $10 billion bond measure that voters approved in 2008. The CHSRA agreed to put more than $800 million toward the Caltrain electrification project, which is at the heart of the lawsuit.
Another obstacle the electrification project faces is the California Republican Congressional delegation. Those lawmakers allegedly lobbied the Federal Transit Administration to stall a $647 million grant scheduled to be delivered to the electrification project this year. The FTA announced in February that the grant was on hold until after Congress could come to a resolution on the 2018 budget. California GOP members reportedly said they wanted a full audit of the bullet train initiative before they would agree on funding any project benefiting it.
The high-speed rail project has been a consistent source of controversy since The Los Angeles Times ran a series of investigative pieces about the project, including those that suggested that rail officials weren't upfront about the challenges and feasibility of the line. This has led to state legislative hearings, but the project has continued its slow march forward, despite additional costs, route changes and land acquisition delays.
- Associated Press California High-Speed Rail Opponents Likely to Appeal Ruling
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