November 20, 2012

Judge rejects injunction against California high-speed project

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A SACRAMENTO County Judge has rejected a bid by farm bureaus in Merced and Madera counties to halt preparatory work on the initial section of California's high-speed line between Merced and Fresno until a lawsuit is decided.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this year and alleges that the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHRSA) failed to conduct thorough environmental reviews and violated open meeting laws stipulated by the California Environmental Quality Act. However, the failure by the bureaus to secure an injunction means that preparation work and tendering will proceed as scheduled.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley ruled that the cost of delaying the project outweighs the risk to farmers and others along the route whose property will be affected by construction.

Frawley added that the three pending lawsuits will be decided in April, well before construction begins in July, and that at this point it was not clear to him whether the authority had failed to meet the standards of the environmental quality act. In his view they had "acted reasonably and in good faith" in trying to comply with California's environmental laws.

Mr Dan Richard, CHSRA chairman applauded the decision. "The judge's decision ensures that we can continue to move forward with our preparatory work to build the first segment of high-speed rail in the Central Valley, with a plan to break ground next summer," Richard says.

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