California High-Speed Rail Setbacks


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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