Authored Articles & Publications Oct 27, 2014

High-Speed Rail Isn't Full Steam Ahead Just Yet

BB&K Attorneys Mrunal Mehta Shah and Sarah Owsowitz Discuss Legal Roadblocks on the Tracks of California's High-Speed Rail Project in the Daily Journal

By Mrunal Mehta Shah and Sarah Owsowitz

The state Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal challenging the validity of the bond authorization approved by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to help fund a $68 million high-speed rail project. The decision validates the authorization to issue bonds by the High-Speed Rail Authority, the state agency responsible for administration and oversight of the project, and allows the project to move beyond the preliminary planning stages.

But additional challenges still exist regarding the funding sources for the project, which will provide passenger rail service from Northern California to Southern California in less than three hours. This includes the 3rd District Court of Appeal declining to rule on whether the bond proceeds are being spent by the agency in accordance with Proposition 1A and other pending legal challenges.

Efforts to fund the project have been underway for more than a decade. In 2002, Senate Bill 1856 authorized the issuance of a $9.95 billion bond measure to finance a high-speed rail system in California. Not until 2008, though, did Prop. 1A, titled the "Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century" get on the ballot, where it was approved by nearly 53 percent of voters. Prop. 1A allocates $9.95 billion to the agency, of which $9 billion must be used to construct the rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles, with the remaining funds to be spent on improving local railroad systems that will connect to the high-speed rail system.

To read the full article in the Daily Journal, which ran Oct. 27, 2014, click here (subscription required).

Continue Reading