The California high-speed rail proposal is trying to stay on track following the release of a new draft plan that put its inflation-adjusted pricetag at near $100 billion. We're currently in a 60 day comment period on the train's first segment through the Central Valley, and a public hearing was held yesterday in Palo Alto, home to a great deal of train opposition. The AP reports that there were the expected naysayers bemoaning the cost, but there were also labor organization leaders begging for the construction bonds to be passed so that people could be put back to work. Others stated that the bullet train will be cheaper than sinking money into freeways and airports (some people disputed that). The legislature will decide on whether to approve the construction bonds in January. Meanwhile, Kings County and two of its residents have dropped a lawsuit in the California High-Speed Rail Authority's lap, the Fresno Bee reports. The suit's arguments appear to have varying merit.
First, Kings County says that the "authority's construction of the [Central] Valley portion of the rail line illegally uses Prop 1A bond funds for a non-electric, or conventional, rail line," according to the Bee (1A created the authority and authorized the high-speed rail bonds). "The suit states that because the proposition called for an electric rail system, the use of proposition funds for a non-electric rail line--even in the 'preliminary' stage--violates state law." The County suit also says that Prop. 1A specifies that "bond funding could not exceed 50% of the funds spent on the Valley rail segment." Well, that's not really the situation, currently--the Central Valley segment is going to cost around $30 billion and the Feds have only given California about one-tenth of that, so a lot more will have to come from bonds. As for the residents joining Kings on the suit, they're suing over the train's impact on locals, including farmers.
Governor Jerry Brown, on the other hand, wants the train to go full-speed ahead. Pictured: train pulling into Burbank station
· California High Speed Rail Public Hearing Draws Critics [AP]
· Kings County sues high-speed rail authority [Fresno Bee]
· High-Speed Rail Archives [Curbed LA]