Federal officials say that a 2012 deadline to start construction of a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail system in California is firm and can't be postponed.
The U.S. Transportation Department said in a letter Wednesday to the California High-Speed Rail Authority that regulators have no authority to change the deadline. The department also says it won't allow the state to move the first stretch of track from the Central Valley to a coastal city.
The state Legislative Analyst's Office this month questioned whether the rail authority can effectively manage the massive capital project linking San Francisco with Los Angeles and Anaheim. The report proposed seeking waivers of the deadline and starting point that were conditions for $3.5 billion in federal grants.
California rail officials requested clarification on whether waivers were possible.