High Speed Rail Legal Problems Reaching A Climax

Morris Brown
Founder of DERAIL, a grassroots effort against the California high-speed rail Project

Last Thursday, the Plaintiff’s in the Tos et. al vs. the High Speed Rail Authority filed their reply brief to the Attorney General’s brief in this highly watched case.  (Sacramento Superior Court  #34-2011-00113919).

The Court hearing on these issues is set for Nov 8, and the Judge will rule within 90 days thereafter.

Judge Kenny had ruled in August the Authority’s funding plan for the Central Valley construction did not conform to requirements mandated in Prop 1A. He than ruled that the attorneys for both sides, file briefs on the issue of what remedies for these illegalities should be imposed.

The State Attorney General, representing the Authority, in her brief, did not contest the Judge’s ruling.  Rather she claimed that construction could start using only Federal grant money, and that Prop 1A would not be violated, since none of those funds were to be used.

The first construction, on which a contract has been awarded, is from Madera to Fresno, about 29 miles.  The total cost of this section is about $2 billion.  The total Federal grant funds amount to about $3.2 billion, and consists of two grants, the ARRA grant, about $2.4 billion, and the FY-2010 grant, about $930 million.

A key section in the Plaintiff’s reply brief, just filed, notes the Authority seems to have overlooked in their plan, that the ARRA grant funds, are geographically restricted to construction in the Central Valley from Fresno south.  Thus they cannot be used to fund the current construction contract awarded to Tutor-Perini for Madera to Fresno, all of which is north of Fresno. Thus under the Authority’s proposed plan, only the FY-2010 funds amounting to $930 million are available for funding this $2 billion segment.

So at best, without the use of Prop 1A funds, it appears the Authority is over $1 billion short of the funds needed to complete this short 29 miles. However, they have already awarded a contract.  Where is an additional over $1 billion going to be obtained?

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