Wednesday, November 19, 2014

California High Speed Rail Update

California’s High Speed rail project is steadily moving forward thanks to the state Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal in October from the project’s opponents, and eminent domain proceedings are underway. 

The Sacramento Business Journal reports that eminent domain cases concerning 36 land parcels are pending in the state superior court. These cases have been brought by the state to negotiate with property owners whose land is necessary for construction of the first leg to begin: 

“Owners of six of those parcels have since settled with the state. Of the 30 that remain, 10 are now pending in courthouses in Fresno and Madera counties. None have gone to trial yet.”

This October the California Supreme Court sided with the High Speed Rail Authority when it rejected a request by project opponents to hear their case.  The significance of this move by the state’s highest court is that the Appeal court’s decision to allow the project to proceed will endure. The California High Speed Rail Authority has taken the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case as a gesture of support, while opponents feel that the project proceeding in its current form creates a dangerous precedent. This speaks to the crux of the case against the High Speed Rail, which was based on allegations that the project had veered too far from the initial bond measure approved by California voters. Although there are still lawsuits pending, construction on the first leg of the high speed rail is slated for the beginning of the year, and will be able to continue as planned. The head of the Rail Authority, Jeff Morales, was quoted as saying that construction on the Fresno-Bakersfield stretch will quicken considerably as a result of the high court’s stance. 

Meanwhile, residents of San Diego are frustrated about the lack of information and concrete plans surrounding construction of the southernmost portion of the project.