Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fresno-Merced Leg of CA High Speed Rail Project Progresses

The High Speed Rail Authority’s planning of the first leg of the project, Fresno-Merced, steadily moved forward over the summer, starting with Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of SB 1029 in July, which provided almost 5 billion dollars in transportation improvement funds. Then in September, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a “Record of Decision” giving the go-ahead to this first segment of a project that will eventually link the Central Valley with the major urban centers of Los Angeles and San Francisco. As part of the project, hundreds of residential and commercial properties and thousands of acres of agricultural land will be acquired through eminent domain laws.

On Friday, November 16, 2012, the High Speed Rail (“HSR”) overcame an obstacle as a Sacramento Superior Court judge denied a motion filed by litigants in a Madera County case against the High Speed Rail Authority.  The lawsuit in Madera was filed by opponents of the high speed rail, which includes businesses along the proposed route as well as the local Farm Bureaus. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, to halt construction on the HSR. They claimed that if the High Speed Rail project is to proceed as scheduled along the route chosen in the Record of Decision, it will affect farmers prior to the beginning of any actual construction. The injunction would have stopped the project in its tracks, including property acquisition as well as entering into construction contracts, pending the resolution of the Madera County case, which is still ongoing.