The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) secured critical funding, nearly $1.2 billion from two major sources, for a Bay Area project that is considered key to completing the $64-billion rail project — making the rail project much more likely.
Thumbs up was given to the rail authority to proceed with the $2-billion Caltrain electrification project. The electrification project is supposed to increase passenger capacity, cut diesel emissions on the 50-mile route in the Bay Area, and reduce travel time. Since the bullet train will eventually share tracks with the Caltrain, the high-speed rail authority is footing the costs for a majority of the bill.
California’s finance department approved a plan for drawing $713 million from a bond fund that voters approved in 2008. It came just days after the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao agreed to issue a full-funding agreement for the $650-million grant that was issued a preliminary approval in the final hours of the Obama administration.
Opponents of the bullet train sought to block the federal grant. Earlier this year, Secretary Chao decided to delay the funding until a financial audit could be completed. The funding will occur in phases, with the first $100-million being recently released.
Shortly after the State’s Finance Director, Michael Cohen, sent a letter to the CHSRA approving the plan to draw $713 million, opponents of the rail project filed a new lawsuit that challenges the funding for the electrification project. Rather than naming the the rail authority, opponents of the rail project named the state of California and Michael Cohen.
The lawsuit challenges AB 1889, signed into law last year, which clarified what counted as a “suitable and ready” segment. Opponents argue that releasing the funds is unconstitutional as it violates the promises made to voters in 2008. Previous lawsuits from opponents have done little to reverse the rail project. Instead, they’ve only delayed it.
This funding comes after a year of financial setbacks. The Green-Cap-and-Trade auctions have done very little to provide funding that the high-speed rail was relying on and the prospects of private funding looks obsolete. The California High-Speed Rail project still faces more than a $40-billion shortfall needed to link San Francisco to Los Angeles.
We will continue to represent property and business owners affected by this project. Thus far, we have obtained extraordinary results on behalf of our clients affected by the high-speed-rail project. If you think your property or business may be facing eminent domain, you can learn more about your options by giving us a call at (866) EM-DOMAIN.