WALTERS: More challenges emerge for high-speed rail
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 5:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 5:29 p.m.
They resolved two of the lawsuits that challenged the project on environmental grounds, but two legal requirements
The federal issue was raised last week in a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority from Rep. Jeff Denham, a San Joaquin Valley Republican who chairs the House subcommittee on railroads.
Denham questioned why California had not sought approval of the project from the federal Surface Transportation Board, a successor to the old Interstate Commerce Commission, as apparently required by federal law.
With the CHSRA hoping to break ground within a few months, the failure to clear the project through the federal board, or get an exemption from it, could become a new weapon in the arsenal of groups that oppose the bullet train.
The sticky point, apparently, is the CHSRA’s plan to connect the 131-mile-long San Joaquin Valley segment to Amtrak service in the region. The Surface Transportation Board exempted Florida’s bullet train project from its process because it was a stand-alone system, but connecting to Amtrak could invoke its authority.
As that situation sorts itself out, bullet train critics are hammering on a provision of the voter-approved bond issue requiring the system, when complete, to carry passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in two hours and 40 minutes.
When the CHSRA switched the project from a stand-alone system to one
However, the model assumes that the train could
That could become the basis for another legal challenge.
And, of course, there are still political impediments. Last week, speaking in Sacramento, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the third-ranking House leader, cautioned California against the
Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.