In what may be the High Speed Rail Authority's biggest loss in court to-date, Tim Sheehan of The Fresno Bee writes that the judge's August 16 ruling has, at the least, "the potential to halt construction of California's high-speed rail project before it starts."
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny "determined that a funding plan adopted by the California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) in 2011 violated several provisions of Proposition 1A (PDF), a $9.9 billion bond measure approved by voters in 2008", Sheehan writes.
Kenny pointedly noted in his ruling that "the authority abused its discretion by approving a funding plan that did not comply with the requirements of the law."
The rail authority is facing one of two, potentially equally damaging consequences:
Either ruling would likely set back the ground-breaking that the authority had planned this summer to start construction in "the first 30-mile stretch of its train route in Madera and Fresno counties this summer."
Sheehan writes that before ruling on which alternative to select, Judge Michael Kenny "is asking attorneys for both sides to provide additional written arguments.... No schedule has been set for those briefings or a hearing on the issue."
What is not clear (to this reader) is which business plan Judge Kenny referred to, nor if it even matters.
In his 16-page ruling, the judge did not explicitly mention the revised 2012 plan, either to uphold or undermine its validity.