Bullet train foes ask California Supreme Court to overturn decision

In an artist's rendering, a high speed train hurtles through the high desert in Southern California. Rail officials are planning to build a 500-mile system to link Los Angeles and San Francisco.
(California High Speed Rail Authority / EPA)

Opponents of the state’s $68 billion bullet train project turned to the California Supreme Court on Wednesday to overturn a lower court ruling that said project officials have complied with a high-speed rail ballot measure approved by voters in 2008.

Kings County and two Central Valley landowners filed an appeal challenging an appellate court decision in July that said the California High-Speed Rail Authority basically met the initiative’s requirements related to developing a financing plan.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal warned, however, that “substantial legal questions loom” about whether the project is consistent with what voters approved.

The ruling reversed a decision last year by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny. He concluded that the rail authority violated Proposition 1A, which authorized $8.6 billion in bond financing.


Kenny said project officials failed to comply with requirements that the state identify all funds for the first usable rail segment and have all environmental clearances in hand before construction begins.

The reversal of Kenny’s decision lifted a cloud over the rail authority’s ability to advance the project over the next several years as it starts building in the Central Valley and accelerates planning for a segment between Palmdale and Burbank.

In their Supreme Court petition, Kings County and the landowners assert that the appellate decision undermines a century of legal mandates requiring strict adherence to the provisions of ballot measures.

The high court has 60 days to decide whether to hear the case.


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