California Supreme Court Clears Way for High-Speed Rail Project

The California Supreme Court decided Wednesday not to consider an appeal of a case brought by opponents of the state's $68 billion bullet train project, clearing the way for construction to proceed.

The justices rejected a request for a hearing on a lower court ruling that allowed the nation's first high-speed rail project to proceed despite questions about whether it complies with promises made to voters when they approved it in 2008.

Plaintiffs from the Central Valley argued in a petition to the court last month that the 3rd District Court of Appeal's July ruling undercuts a century of legal precedent requiring the state to strictly comply with the intent of voters.

Proposition 1A promised voters that the state would identify funding for the first useable segment of the rail line and that it would have necessary environmental clearances done before starting construction.

The plaintiffs, Kings County and landowners in the Central Valley, successfully argued in Sacramento County Superior Court that the state failed on both counts, identifying only $6 billion of the estimated $26 billion needed for the first 130-mile segment, and failing to secure sufficient environmental approvals.

The court's decision not to hear the appeal "bodes poorly for all kinds of tax measures that go on the ballot because voters are going to say 'How do I know they're going to do this, how can I trust what they say?"' plaintiffs' attorney Stuart Flashman said Wednesday.

Dan Richard, chairman of the board that oversees the high-speed rail project, said in a written statement that the state will move aggressively to build the system.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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