California high-speed rail clears important legal hurdle

It was in “California style high-speed rail: Will it prevail?” that I presented several of the issues surrounding the project still needing resolving.

To repeat, I wrote: “Meanwhile, Tim Sheehan in The Fresno Bee on June 5, 2014 in ‘Kings County lawsuit challenges Fresno-Bakersfield high-speed rail’ wrote: ‘The Kings County Board of Supervisors, the Farm Bureau and a group of county residents filed suit Thursday in Sacramento County Superior Court challenging the approval of a high-speed rail route through the county between Fresno and Bakersfield.’

“And, added Sheehan, ‘Thursday’s lawsuit is the latest legal shot fired by Kings County and the Citizens for High-Speed Rail Accountability in a three-year battle opposing the state’s proposed $68 billion bullet-train project. An earlier lawsuit dating to 2012, now pending in a state appeals court, contends that the rail authority’s plan violates Proposition 1A, the $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond measure approved by voters in 2008.’”

Well, the California State Supreme Court, in a near-unanimous ruling, agreed to not hear an appeal sought by Kings County plaintiffs related to funding of the state’s planned high-speed rail system. This decision by the state’s highest court was handed down on Oct. 15th.

Robert Cruickshank at the California High Speed Rail Blog seemed quite resolute in his response. “To be clear: the Supreme Court didn’t feel Kings County and the anti-HSR forces that joined them had enough of a case to merit even a hearing. That’s a much bigger smackdown than if the Supreme Court had taken the case and upheld the Court of Appeals anyway. It’s the Supreme Court’s way of telling Kings County and the other plaintiffs that their arguments were literally not even worth hearing,” Cruickshank wrote.

So, what is in store?

For one, from a separate article, one of the plaintiffs – Hanford homeowner Aaron Fukuda – vowed to not abandon the fight. Is Fukuda’s goal, then, to stop the 800-mile project from moving ahead or is he trying, through legal means, to ensure that state high-speed rail will be the best it can be when built?

Meanwhile, Chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Dan Richard, has indicated that in going forward, movement will be aggressive.

Oddly enough, there isn’t a single high-speed rail system operating anywhere in the America’s – North, Central or South – at least, none that I’m aware of. Though all this could change in the span of a couple of dozen years or less.

320px-Acela_Express_and_Metro-North_railcar[1]Systems, though, are being considered. Among them are Texas (Texas Central Railway high-speed rail linking Dallas-Ft.Worth and Houston), Minnesota (Zip Rail connecting Minneapolis-St. Paul and Rochester), California-Nevada (XpressWest bridging Victorville-Palmdale and Las Vegas) and Baltimore, Maryland-Washington, D.C., (an amalgam of interests proposing a high-speed magnetically levitated train).

Add to these planned systems in Argentina, Brazil and a Mexico City-Guadalajara, Jalisco line.

Ironically, full build-out of California’s system, expected in 2033, if that transpires, some 70 years will have passed since Japan inaugurated its first high-speed train line between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964.

What does all this have to do with air pollution or its mitigation? High capacity, high quality, high-speed electric trains around the globe, emissions-reduction-wise, deliver. For more on this, see: “For National Transportation Week, road, rail, air compared” here.

Image at bottom: Connor Harris

– Alan Kandel

1 thought on “California high-speed rail clears important legal hurdle”

  1. I wrote above: “Ironically, full build-out of California’s system, expected in 2033, if that transpires, some 70 years will have passed since Japan inaugurated its first high-speed train line between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964.”

    As for the “if that transpires” part, it is looking more and more like “when” and not “if.”

    On Dec. 12, the California High-Speed Rail Authority in a media advisory notice announced groundbreaking is to occur in Fresno, California on Jan. 6, 2015 although no details were given as to where and when in Fresno this would take place. See details here:

    I have since learned that construction of the line is to commence in Fresno’s downtown.

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