CHSRA Loses One Appeal, Others Remain
The California High Speed Rail Authority had asked the 3rd District Court of Appeals to delay or reverse Judge Michael Kenny’s decision to allow a trial on the question of whether the “blended plan” and other elements of the high speed rail phasing process violated Proposition 1A. Their argument was that they were appealing other parts of the case, where Judge Kenny found that the financing plan violated Prop 1A, and that those appeals should be exhausted before having a new trial.
Unfortunately the appeals court did not agree and ruled today against that request. As Tim Sheehan explains, here’s what’s at issue in the looming trial:
• That the blended system is substantially different than a line of fully dedicated tracks only for high-speed trains that some hard-core advocates and project opponents both say was what voters were promised in Prop. 1A.
• That sharing tracks with the Caltrain commuter line between San Francisco and San Jose will keep high-speed trains from achieving Prop. 1A’s ultimate mandate for a 2-hour 40-minute nonstop ride from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles’ Union Station.
• That the system would not be able to operate without a public subsidy.
The alleged shortcomings collectively add up to an illegal expenditure of public funds for the high-speed rail program, according the lawsuit. In early March, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny denied a motion by the rail agency to dismiss this portion of the Tos/Fukuda/Kings County case.
These are all very thin reeds for the Kings County folks to clutch. Their strongest argument was indeed the financial plan and though they won a victory in Superior Court, it will either be overturned on appeal or the Legislature will simply write a new one that satisfies the ruling. And the Steinberg cap-and-trade plan gets a really long way toward that goal.
So this ruling is unfortunate but something of a sideshow for now. The main event is the appeal of Judge Kenny’s ruling, and there is still plenty of reason to believe the Authority will prevail there.