SACRAMENTO— The board that oversees California's $24 billion high-speed rail project approved plans Tuesday that pave the way for the first major sale of voter-approved construction bonds for the project in years, as opponents announced the filing of another lawsuit that could again stall construction.
The high-speed rail board approved $3.2 billion in funding Tuesday for two segments: $2.6 billion for a 119-mile leg connecting Fresno to Madera and $600 million to electrify a 55-mile stretch of existing Caltrain tracks from Santa Clara County to downtown San Francisco that will eventually connect with high-speed rail. The money is needed so the state meets its obligation to "match" federal funding, but had been tied up in litigation for several years.
The funding will come from nearly $10 billion that voters approved for a California high-speed rail project as part of Proposition 1A in 2008, then projected to cost $40 billion.
At the public board meeting, though, attorney Stuart Flashman announced he had submitted a new lawsuit challenging the legality of AB 1889, a bill rushed through the Legislature last year that changed previous laws to allow high-speed rail bonds to be spent on electrification. That funding use fell outside the scope of what voters approved, Flashman said, and only voters can change it.