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High-Speed Rail Project Wins Crucial Legal Battle - For Now

Mar 8, 2016

California high-speed rail supporters have dodged yet another legal bullet. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the state has won a lawsuit that threatened to derail the embattled project.

When California voters approved a high-speed rail bond measure in 2008, they included several conditions. Among them, trains must speed passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours, 40 minutes.

Opponents sued, arguing the state can’t meet all the conditions. Now, a Sacramento County judge has essentially ruled: maybe so, but it’s too soon to say.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Stuart Flashman says he’s disappointed but sees a silver lining in the judge’s ruling.

Flashman: “He says, yeah, those problems certainly look to be very real and problematic. But since they’re not using the bond funds yet, they’re not ripe. So I can’t stop them now because they aren’t using bond funds.” 

But California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Chair Dan Richard says the project’s critics should recognize they’ve lost.

Richard: “They’re not gonna stop this project, we are building this project faithful to the Bond Act, and these repeated lawsuits are just delaying things and costing people money – and it’s time for people to point that out.” 

Construction is under way in the Central Valley.