California’s high-speed rail project is one of the most extensive
and expensive public works projects in the United States. In 2008, Californians
approved the high-speed rail project with the hopes that one day they
would be able to take a train from Southern California to San Francisco
in three hours. However, recent setbacks has Californians increasingly
concerned about whether or not the high-speed rail project will be completed.
In order for the project to succeed, California leaders must navigate their
way through a maze of deadlines, lawsuits, and regulations that continually
threaten the project. California has yet to lay any new track for the
high-speed rail system, but it has been busy preparing. The California
High Speed Rail Authority has held meetings with local residents and community
members regarding the proposed route and potential environmental impacts.
In fact, parts of downtown Fresno have already been excavated for archeological studies.
Unfortunately, the proposed area of construction has seen backlash from
local taxpayers. Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled that the high-speed
rail agency must revise its finance plans and secure more extensive environmental
approvals. The judge faulted the state for financing only the first phase
of construction rather than the first operable route, as specified by
the 2008 ballot measure.
The project also saw more setbacks when a federal agency ruled against
the California High-Speed Rail Authority for wanting tentative approval
for phase two of the project without first completing an environmental
impact study. The ruling has given hope to those who want to use the California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to challenge the high-speed train project.
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