CA HSR Passes Crucial Court Test In Central Valley

Writing from Madera in the Central Valley, the Mercury News transportation reporter explores the local opposition to the largest public works project in the nation. Farmers wanted an injunction placed on the CA High Speed Rail Authority to halt work.

Mike Rosenberg describes the local opposition to the project which would have derailed had Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley granted the preliminary injunction they requested.  It "would prevent the state's rail authority from buying land along the proposed route and continuing with site surveys, engineering design work and geological testing that began months ago."

(Breaking news: Judge denies injunction in high-speed rail legal challenge)

"The farmers and the county here are suing to block the first 29 miles of high-speed rail from coming through the exact center of California, and a Sacramento judge on Friday (Nov. 16) is expected to rule on their request. It's a possible preview of battles to come in the Bay Area if the project moves forward."

Should Frawley grant the injunction, the Associated Press' Juliet William writes in The Fresno Bee that the High Speed Rail Authority could continue work, though more limited than they would prefer.

"'While an injunction would hinder our ability to begin construction in the Central Valley in a timely manner, other aspects of the program - such as investment into existing regional transit that will tie into the high speed rail line - will go forward as planned,' California High-Speed Rail Authority Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales said in a written statement to The Associated Press, writes William."

"While Central Valley construction workers are eager for the high-speed train to come to town, a vocal anti-bullet train sentiment has spread across the farmlands of small, conservative Madera County, which now stands as the last barrier in the path of a groundbreaking next summer", writes Rosenberg.

In fact, Tim Sheheen writes in The Fresno Bee on Wednesday, Nov. 14 that the High Speed Rail Authority is considering a program from Fresno Works that "would put a premium on contractors to hire workers who live in communities with high rates of long-term unemployment or other economic hardship, or workers who are considered economically disadvantaged..."

In addition, "the California High Speed Rail Authority has pushed back the deadline to finish the first stages of the bullet train system in the central San Joaquin Valley", writes Tim Sheehan on Nov. 15   The Madera-Bakersfield section deadline would be extended to the end of 2017 from September 2017 - which was in compliance with the Recovery Act.

Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times writes  that "Jeff Morales, chief executive of the authority, said (Thurs, Nov. 15 that) the revised schedule would have the track completed by December 2017 rather than a year earlier as set under the agency's contracting documents"

Full Story: In California's Central Valley, farmers fight in their fields and court to block high-speed rail

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