Judge derails California's bullet train for now

Nov. 26, 2013 at 1:47 PM
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SACRAMENTO, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- California's bullet train faces delays after a judge ruled the state may not use voter-approved bond revenue for construction of the $68 billion project.

Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled the state has not met a requirement of Proposition 1A, that it obtain all of the funding for the project before starting on phase one -- a $2 billion, self-supporting southern leg of the future railroad that would service the Fresno area, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

That requirement was intended to insure the state could complete the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco train and would not abandon the effort before it is completed.

The state, however, is $25 billion short in what it will need to finish the modern rail system, the Times said.

In addition, Kenny declined to validate a state proposal to sell bullet-train bonds, finding state officials failed to follow correct procedure in trying to arrange for a sale.

Construction is a year behind schedule. The state could begin construction with federal funding but California U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said he and other Republicans will "continue our efforts to deny any federal funds going toward this unworkable boondoggle in the future."

"With no private funds, unreliable ridership numbers and the reliance on taxpayers to eventually bail the project out -- it should not move forward," McCarthy said.

Proponents of the bullet train said the judge's ruling was a setback, but setbacks were expected.

"Like all transformative projects, we understand that there will be many challenges that will be addressed as we go forward in building the nation's first high-speed rail system," said Dan Richard, board president of the state's High Speed Rail Authority.

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