Surface Transportation Board Rules In Favor Of California HSR
Congressional Republicans and others opposed to the California high speed rail project had been hoping the Surface Transportation Board would give them a big win and block construction of the HSR project this summer.
But that won’t be happening. Instead the STB today ruled in favor of the California HSR project, granting the section from Merced to Fresno an exemption from STB approval rules:
After considering the entire record on both the transportation and environmental issues, including FRA’s Record of Decision and final environmental review documents, as well as the public comments filed in this proceeding, we are granting the Authority’s petition for exemption, subject to environmental mitigation conditions, including the condition that the Authority build the route designated by FRA as environmentally preferable.
This is the last regulatory hurdle for the HSR project before groundbreaking can take place later this summer. The last legal hurdle is the lawsuit charging that the construction plan violates Prop 1A. That suit was heard a few weeks ago in Sacramento Superior Court, and we should get a ruling on that in the next month or two.
Republicans like Jeff Denham were playing up the possibility of the STB denying the petition for exemption as a way to derail the HSR project. And once again they’ve lost. The STB made the right decision here, one that will help promote good passenger rail transportation and help ensure that the California HSR project in particular gets under construction sooner rather than later.