California Judge Sends High-Speed Rail Plan Careening Backward Into to the Station

Somebody make a "Nope nope nope nope nope!" GIFCalifornia’s High-Speed Rail
Authority (CHSRA) can’t even spin this one: A state judge in
Sacramento, in two separate rulings, has taken the business plans
for the state’s bullet train outside, tossed them in a rusty barrel
behind the courthouse, and set them on fire. As Reason has
noted across several years, the CHSRA’s runaway rail
plan was wildly different, more expensive, and simply
not in compliance
with what was approved by voters in a ballot
initiative in 2008. Today Judge Michael Kenny agreed with opponents
that the state could not push forward with its plans as they are.
From the
Associated Press

Judge Michael Kenny rejected a request from the California
High-Speed Rail Authority to sell $8 billion of the $10 billion in
bonds approved by voters in 2008, saying there was no evidence it
was “necessary and desirable” to start selling the bonds when a
committee of state officials met last March.

He said the committee was supposed to act as “the ultimate
`keeper of the checkbook'” for taxpayers, but instead relied on a
request from the high-speed rail authority to start selling bonds
as sufficient evidence to proceed.

In a separate lawsuit, Kenny ordered the rail authority to redo
its $68 billion funding plan before continuing construction, a
process that could take months or years. He had previously ruled
that the authority abused its discretion by approving a funding
plan that did not comply with the requirements of the law. The
judge said the state failed to identify “sources of funds that were
more than merely theoretically possible.”

Proposition 1A, which voters approved in 2008, required the rail
authority to specify the source of the funding for the first
operable segment of the high-speed rail line – a 300 mile stretch –
and have all the necessary environmental clearances in place. Kenny
had said the agency did not comply with either mandate in approving
the start of construction from Madera to Fresno, about 30

Technically and politically, the ruling doesn’t kill the plan,
but the blow is pretty devastating. The state does not have the
money to build a full 300-mile stretch of the $68 billion
boondoggle. Despite blinkered claims by progressive that
California’s economy is recovering, it is
in huge amounts of debt, unfunded state pension
liabilities, and rapidly expanding health care costs. And there’s

little sign
of additional federal subsidies coming unless the
Democrats win the day in 2014 and take back the House.

Nevertheless, CHSRA is trying to act like they expected a judge
to order them to start the process over the whole time:

“Like all transformative projects, we understand that there will
be many challenges that will be addressed as we go forward in
building the nation’s first high-speed rail system,” authority
board Chairman Dan Richard said in a written statement.

Going backward instead is quite the challenge to your efforts to
go forward.

from Hit & Run

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