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Legal War Could Muck Up Summer Bullet Train Groundbreaking

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It's no surprise that the California high-speed rail is an ambitious project with lots of hurdles--at about $69 billion it's one of the largest infrastructure projects in the country--but it's facing an especially big one right now. Executives with the California High-Speed Rail Authority were in court on Friday, facing down a challenge from Bay Area and Central Valley opponents who claim the train's current iteration violates the 2008 bond measure that voters passed to help fund the project (they say rail authorities can't guarantee the train can run without subsidies nor can it guarantee a 2 hour, 40 minute ride from LA to SF), the Daily News reports. Other legal claims have been tossed but this is the first case that challenges the bond measure to make it to court; luckily, a decision could come down next week.

But if it doesn't go well for the CHSRA, the groundbreaking date could be thrown into limbo, and during Friday's testimony, rail officials admitted they will likely miss their July groundbreaking date because of other issues. The hope now is for late summer and you can blame several factors: eminent domain related to property owners refusing to sell their land, negotiations with contractor Tudor Perini, which is building the line's first track in the Central Valley, and a bureaucratic snafu related to a late application sent to the federal Surface Transportation Board. Regardless, rail authorities remain bullish on a summer start to work--should the trial go their way.
· California high-speed rail faces delay as high stakes trial begins Friday [DN]
· High-speed Rail Archives [Curbed LA]