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High Speed Rail Clearing Some Legal Hurdles

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Sacramento, CA — California’s planned bullet train had two legal victories this week.

The Associated Press reports the high speed rail authority reached a settlement on Wednesday with the small community of Shafter, ending one of several lawsuits filed over the plan to build the train between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Shafter had filed a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit arguing that the plan would hinder its ability to make improvements on a freight line already running through the town.

Then yesterday, a judge tentatively rejected arguments that the authority is improperly spending voter-approved bond money. Judge Richard Sueyoshi issued the tentative ruling in Sacramento County Superior Court, but the plaintiffs, Central Valley farmer John Tos and former head of the rail authority Quentin Kopp, will appear in court today for further discussions.

$10-million in initial bond money for the project was approved by voters in 2008, and cost over-runs and delays have spiked the overall price tag to around $77-billion. Much of the funding still needs to be identified/generated by the state. It is tentatively scheduled to be completed around 2033.

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