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State Appeals Court Delivers Win For High-Speed Rail

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Rendering of high-speed rail. (Courtesy the High-Speed Rail Authority)
Rendering of high-speed rail. (Courtesy the High-Speed Rail Authority)

A state appeals court has delivered a much-needed win for California’s controversial $68 billion High-Speed Rail project.

In a Thursday evening ruling, California’s 3rd Court of Appeals overturned two November 2013 decisions by a Sacramento judge blocking the project from tapping into $8 billion in state bond money, and throwing out the proposed San Francisco-to-Los Angeles rail line’s business plan.

“Contrary to the trial court's determination, the High-Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee properly found that issuance of bonds for the project was necessary or desirable,” the court ruled, ordering Judge Michael Kenny to validate bond sales financing the project’s initial construction phase.

“Without a validation the state could not go to the financial markets to sell the bonds that were approved by the voters (in 2008),” said Brown Administration spokesman H.D. Palmer. “Absent an appeal to the (state) Supreme Court, the 3rd District Court of Appeal has now given the state the green light to go forward and sell those bonds.”

It’s unclear at this time whether rail opponents will appeal the decision. “I’ve got to talk to my clients, but I suspect they may well appeal it,” said Stuart Flashman, who represents Kings County and others who challenged the project’s legal authority. “Obviously we’re very disappointed. …This ruling, I’m afraid, lets (the rail project) slide on forward.”

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Governor Jerry Brown has made the rail project a top priority, despite growing concerns from lawmakers in both parties – but primarily Republicans – about the project’s growing cost and feasibility. This year’s state budget allocated $250 million in cap-and-trade auction revenue for the rail project.

Read the full ruling below:

California High-Speed Rail Appeal Court Ruling by KQED News

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