SACRAMENTO – After a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the California High Speed Rail Authority and denied attempts by Central Valley residents to shut down construction of the rail line, plans and construction are pressing on.
“At the authority, we are continuing to move forward with the design and building of a high-speed rail system that will achieve required travel times and generate sufficient revenues to cover operating costs,” Annie Parker, public information officer for the authority, told the Northern California Record.
The decision concluded the suit that was filed nearly five years ago, excepting an appeal by the plaintiffs. Kings County landowners claimed that the high-speed rail did not comply with the requirements of the Proposition 1A Bond Act that voters approved in 2008. The suit sought to withhold bond money, alleging that the train ultimately wouldn’t abide by the promised travel times or make enough money to support itself. The suit also alleged that alterations to the plan, which would put Caltrain and high-speed trains on the same track, don’t fit the bond act agreement.
Proposition 1A gave the authority $9.95 billion to jump-start the $65 billion project on the condition that the finished system would make the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 hours and 40 minutes and the trip from San Francisco to San Jose in 30 minutes. It also agreed to 5 minutes or less between trains and financial viability.
Judge Michael Kenny wrote in his decision that the plaintiffs raised “substantial concerns about the currently proposed system's ability to ultimately comply with the Bond Act.” However, because the high-speed rail system hasn’t used any of the funding yet and “continues to evolve and change,” Kenny denied the complaint, stating that the litigation was premature.
"This ruling confirms that we are indeed delivering a fast, modern and environmentally friendly high-speed rail system that meets the voter-approved requirements under Proposition 1A,” Dan Richard, chairman of the authority’s board, said in a statement in response to the ruling. “This five-year lawsuit wasted taxpayer dollars and delayed implementation, but we are moving forward and redoubling our efforts to build this transformative, job-creating investment in California's future."
In its draft of the 2016 business plan, the authority projects the construction of the high-speed rail line between Silicon Valley and Central Valley will be finished by 2024 and begin operating in 2025. As the project progresses – and evolves – the authority will adapt to any change circumstances, Parker said.
“California’s investment in high-speed rail will provide both near and long-term transportation benefits – in addition to increasing safety, protecting the environment, creating jobs, supporting disadvantaged communities, businesses and workers,” Parker said.