California Supreme Court Upholds High-Speed Rail Project

Yesterday the California Supreme Court summarily denied a petition by high-speed rail opponents who sought to stop the project. (P.2; Case # S220926) Opponents had asked California’s highest court to review a ruling by the Third District Court of Appeals pertaining to a pre-appropriation funding plan submitted to the legislature and the bond process begun by the High Speed Rail Authority.

Here is part of a report from Jessica Calefati of the Contra Costa Times:

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday decided not to review a case about the validity of the state’s bullet train funding plan, eliminating one of the project’s biggest legal hurdles and clearing the way for construction to begin…

Last November, a Sacramento Superior Court judge shocked high-speed rail officials when he ruled in favor of the Kings County farmers and residents who had filed suit against the state to stop the bullet train.

But in late July, the Sacramento-based Third District Court of Appeal ordered Judge Michael Kenny to vacate his decision — a huge victory for Gov. Jerry Brown, one of the project’s biggest cheerleaders. The judges found the rail authority’s finance committee acted properly last year when it voted to approve the issuance of the bonds.

In response, the Authority issued the following statement from Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard:

“This decision reaffirms that the Authority can continue building a modern high-speed rail system that connects the state, creates jobs and complies with the law. We will continue to move forward aggressively to deliver the nation’s first high-speed rail system.”

With the Supreme Court’s clear rejection of opponents’ obstructionism, yet another roadblock is moved from the path of the nation’s first high-speed rail system. This comes on the heels of another decision late this summer that said the Authority’s CEQA plans for the San Francisco Peninsula were well done and valid, contrary to opponents’ claims. And with the passage of this year’s budget, high-speed rail received a dedicated and continual source of funds from the cap and trade auction proceeds. These recurring funds are in addition to the $9 billion in bond funds approved by the voters in 2008, and the over $3 billion of funds from federal stimulus money.

Test pilings for a key piece of infrastructure just north of Fresno have been conducted and the first demolitions have taken place inside the city of Fresno. High-speed rail will connect Merced with the San Fernando Valley by 2022, and the Bay Area with the Los Angeles basin by 2029. The system, once complete, will take passengers from downtown San Francisco to downtown Los Angeles in 2 hours and 40 minutes, with trains traveling as fast as 220 miles per hour.

Here are three videos from the Fresno Bee showing the test piling and the demolitions:

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