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California Supreme Court Rebuffs High Speed Rail Opponents

The California Supreme Court gave a green light to the state's embattled High Speed Rail Authority to begin issuing $8.6 billion in voter-approved bonds by rejecting the appeal by Central Valley opponents of the project.
October 17, 2014, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The California Supreme Court on Wednesday (October 15) refused to review a key case regarding funding for the bullet train, eliminating one of the project's biggest legal hurdles and allowing construction to begin," writes Jessica Calefati of the Bay Area News Group.

"This decision removes the cloud regarding allegations that we weren't doing things properly," said Jeff Morales, the rail authority's CEO. "It means we can go out and sell the bonds and get this system built."

"Kings County and two landowners filed an appeal last month challenging an appellate court decision in July that concluded that the authority basically met the requirements of a successful 2008 ballot proposition approving $9 billion in bonds for the project," writes Dan Weikel, transportation reporter of the Los Angeles Times.

For a quick, 52-second summary of the decision and implications, listen to Amy Quinton of Capital Public Radio news.

"Morales said Wednesday's decision means the pace of other construction work required before tracks are built will speed up dramatically," writes Calefati. "And earlier this year, the Legislature agreed to a steady source of bullet train funding -- a portion of cap-and-trade revenues collected annually from the state's worst polluters."

At issue in the legal case was whether the rail authority followed a sweeping set of stringent rules for selling the bonds approved by voters in 2008 to begin construction of the project, which state officials now estimate will cost $68 billion.

Not out of the legal woods yet.

"The project still faces other legal challenges, including questions about whether the train will be able to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2 hours 40 minutes, as called for in Prop. 1A," writes David Siders of the Sacramento Bee.

For rail watchers, Siders notes that "(c)rews this summer have been working on the first construction segment of the project, near Fresno, relocating utilities and demolishing, among other work."

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, October 16, 2014 in Bay Area News Group
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