A Court of Appeals decision to review a lower court’s order finding that the bond issue for a high-speed rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles violated state law revives the hope that the project has a chance to move forward. Sacramento Superior Court judge Michael Kenny had ruled that the state bond issuance breached safeguards established in a 2008 bond act and did not have the right to issue any more bonds. Judge Kenny also found that the state failed to follow proper procedures in issuing the bonds.
That decision, if upheld, would mean that the planned rail line would have to rely strictly on federal funds in order to be built. The appellate court could have proceeded to affirm that decision which would have given the high-speed rail proponents only a last-ditch, and probably remote, chance before the California’ Supreme Court to revive the state funding portion. Now these advocates hope the Court of Appeals will overturn Judge Kenny’s ruling.
This funding would support the construction of the first 130-mile part of the system which is projected to cost about $6 billion. The federal government will pay $3.2 billion of that amount but the system requires these other funds raised by the state.. Part of the problem with the bond issuance process, according to Judge Kenny’s order, stemmed from the bond issue’s failure to identify all available funding sources as required by a 2008 bond act governing the manner in which the state can issue bonds. It was necessary, the order declared, to list those entities funding both the initial operating segment of the line and performing the environmental review which must precede the approval to proceed with any construction.
Now the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which appealed to the Court of Appeals for fast-track review, can metaphorically heave a brief of sigh of relief as it, and its judicial adversaries, await a decision on the merits from that higher court.
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