California High-Speed Rail Authority

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (“CHSRA”) issued a press release with the status of its construction work for the high-speed rail project (the “Project”) at seven active sites in the Central Valley.  Many of the Project’s segments in Madera and Fresno are beginning to see development; the foundation has been established in several sections, rebar

On January 26, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) issued a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (the “Authority”) that found that the Authority’s contractors are not in compliance with the Authority’s original environmental commitments to the USFWS in performing the preliminary work on the first segment of the high-speed rail project (the

As the High Speed Rail Authority (“Authority”) prepares to begin construction this week of the first segment of the High Speed Rail Project (the “Project”), the State Public Works Board is concurrently scrambling to consider resolutions of necessity to acquire property for the first segment within Fresno and Madera counties.  Because of the recent litigation

The Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) issued a declaratory order in a 2-1 vote last Friday, finding that the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) is categorically preempted by federal law, as it relates to the Fresno to Bakersfield segment of the California High-Speed Rail Project (“HSR Project”).

Section 10501(b) of Title 49 of the United States Code provides that remedies with respect to rail transportation are exclusive and preempt remedies provided under State or Federal law. The STB has previously ruled that states or localities are precluded from intruding into matters directly regulated by the STB, in particular when the state or local action would have the effect of foreclosing or unduly restricting the rail carrier’s ability to conduct its operations or otherwise unreasonably burden interstate commerce.

Under this section, the STB could not overlook the fact that CEQA, as a state pre-clearance requirement, could ultimately deny or significantly delay the High-Speed Rail Authority’s (the “Authority”) right to construct a railroad line. This would directly defy the STB’s exclusive jurisdiction over a project that it regulates. Even if it could be argued that the Authority created an implied agreement by voluntarily beginning the CEQA process, the STB concluded that any such agreement would unreasonably interfere with interstate commerce because it would prevent the Authority from exercising its authority to construct the rail line, which it had been previously authorized to do by the STB.
Continue Reading High Speed Rail Moves Forward Without CEQA Review

James Andrew, Assistant Chief Counsel for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (“CHSRA”), spoke Tuesday, October 14, at the Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section Luncheon.  He stated that High-Speed Rail (“HSR”) is a “transformative project” in that it will be the largest infrastructure project ever built as one single project.  However, the “regulatory scheme has not caught up with the project.”  Andrew compares HSR to the federal highway system construction in the 1950s, with countless opponents and regulatory hurdles.  Similarly, HSR is being constructed in California in the same manner as the federal highway system:  in the center and branching outward.

To show that HSR can be a success, Andrew explained that HSR is comparable to the Northeast Corridor, a high speed rail system that runs from Washington, D.C. to Boston.  The two regions are similar in terms of distance of rail, population, and complexity of issues.  According to reports, over 11 million people rode the Northeast Corridor during 2012.Continue Reading Update on the California High Speed Rail System

The State Public Works Board (the “Board”) adopted four Resolutions of Necessity approving the High-Speed Rail Authority’s (the “Authority”) use of eminent domain for public necessity to acquire four parcels in Fresno and Madera County for the Initial Operating Segment of the High-Speed Rail Project (the “Project”).  (Click HERE for map of Initial Operating Segment.) 

Despite recent obstacles, the California High Speed Rail Authority (the “Authority”) remains steadfast in its determination to complete the high-speed rail project (the “Project”), bolstered by recent approvals from various state agencies.

First, the Authority received the green light last Friday from the State Public Works Board to begin eminent domain proceedings against eight properties

Last Friday, Governor Brown’s administration (the “Petitioners”) filed a petition for extraordinary writ of mandate and application for temporary stay with the California Supreme Court, challenging Superior Court Judge Michael Kenney’s decision last November to halt construction of the high-speed rail project.  On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court declined to consider the petition and instead transferred

A ruling by the Sacramento County Superior Court has presented a major roadblock to the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s (“Authority”) high-speed rail project (“Project”).  On November 25, 2013, Judge Michael Kenny ruled that the Authority was not authorized to sell $8 billion of the $10 billion in state bonds designated for project funding under Proposition

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (“Authority”) had a major setback on Friday when Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled that the Authority had “abused its discretion by approving a funding plan that did not comply with the requirements of [Proposition 1A]” and failed to identify “sources of funds that were more than merely theoretically possible.”

Proposition 1A, which voters passed in 2008, requires the Authority to identify the funding for the entire first segment of the high-speed rail project and clear all environmental review prior to commencing construction. Last summer, lawmakers authorized selling $2.6 billion in state bonds for construction of the first segment, the 130 miles from Madera to Fresno, and allowed the state to tap $3.3 billion in federal matching funds. During the hearing, the Authority argued that it had complied with Proposition 1A because the requirements only apply to the construction of the first 130-mile segment.
Continue Reading California High-Speed Rail Authority Violated Proposition 1A

The High-Speed Rail Authority’s (the “Authority”) monthly Board of Directors meeting in Sacramento is scheduled for tomorrow, June 6, 2013.  Many supporters and opponents of the High-Speed Rail Project (the “Project”) have been waiting anxiously for this meeting because the previously released agenda indicated that the Board would approve a rail alignment between Fresno and