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Court Rules Against California Bullet Train But Doesn't Derail It

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A Sacramento Superior Court judge has ruled that the California High-Speed Rail project is out of order, but he hasn't ordered that work stop just yet. Judge Michael Kenny ruled late on Friday that officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority violated the ballot initiative that voters passed in 2008 to allocate money for a bullet train connecting SoCal to NorCal. The judge agreed with Kings County officials who argued that there should be a full environmental impact report for the first stretch of the line, from Merced to Bakersfield, before any work can begin--the authority only finished an EIR for part of that segment. While the authority is close to finishing the EIR on the whole segment, the judge's more damning ruling was about funding: The initiative "required the Authority to identify sources of funds that were more than merely theoretically possible, but instead were reasonably expected to be actually available when needed," Kenny said in his ruling. "The state's business plan identifies only potential funding, without commitments, agreements or authorizations, he said," according to the LA Times.

Kenny is allowing work to start on the train, which is already majorly delayed, but he scheduled future hearings to decide how the violations can be addressed. The Bakersfield Californian doesn't think the ruling is a death knell for the project, but says that, in the hearings, "The Authority must show him it can hew closer to a pay-as-you-go model voters thought they were endorsing."
· Court rules California bypassed requirements for bullet-train process [LAT]
· High-Speed Rail Archives [Curbed LA]