CA Transit Agencies Shouldn't Count on High Speed Rail Funding

The $4.7 billion high speed rail bond appropriation, signed by Gov. Brown on July 18 included $2 billion for transit upgrades in the Bay Area and Southern CA. Max Taves reports that litigation in the Central Valley could target that funding.
July 25, 2012, 10am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Central Valley and San Francisco peninsula attorneys representing groups that have sued the California High-Speed Rail Authority warn that they are going after the ‘bookend' investments that upgrade local and regional rail lines in southern and northern California.

"The biggest share of the funds approved this month, $700 million, is to go to Caltrain, the rail line connecting 42,000 commuters each weekday from Gilroy and San Jose to San Francisco."

"Kings County, for example, is suing the California High-Speed Rail Authority, claiming the path of the future high-speed line through the Central Valley county would hurt its ability to deliver services and disrupt private farmland. The county alleges misuse of high-speed rail funds and says the legislature is disregarding the intentions of voters, who in 2008 passed Proposition 1A, which approved $10 billion in borrowing by the state to fund construction of high-speed rail."

"Spending money on Caltrain (electrification) 'was really meant to curry favor with San Francisco politicians' to get their support for the larger statewide high-speed rail plan, says lawyer Michael Brady, who filed the suit on behalf of Kings County."

And no mercy was spared on Caltrain by the attorney representing citizens and groups on the Peninsula, even though they would benefit from the faster, quieter, emissions-free transformation from diesel to electricity for the trains serving their neighborhoods.

"Gary Patton, a Santa Cruz-based lawyer representing the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail, a group of private citizens in Bay Area cities who oppose the rail project, says the coalition has also been closely watching Caltrain's plans to use Prop 1A funds for electrification."

"We're going to do everything we can to stop that," says Mr. Patton.

Contributor's note: Access to entire article may be time-limited for those without Wall Street Journal subscription.

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal - San Francisco Bay Area
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