A Sacramento judge has sided with California’s bullet-train planners, dismissing a lawsuit brought by Peninsula cities challenging the $69 billion project’s environmental review.
The ruling is a boost to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which plans to break ground on the first segment of track as soon as July in the Central Valley.
“This is an important ruling and is testament to the fact that the authority is committed to delivering the high-speed rail project in accordance with the law and in partnership with the public,” Jeff Morales, the authority’s CEO, said in a prepared statement. “We continue to move forward to start construction this summer and create thousands of jobs in California.”
A lawyer for the cities, Stuart Flashman, said: “Obviously, I’m disappointed.”
As for possible next steps, Flashman said, “I’ll have to discuss his ruling with my clients.”
The ruling by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny means that state planners were correct in 2008 to send the bullet train through the Pacheco Pass from the Central Valley instead of using an alternate route that would have sent trains through the East Bay’s Altamont Pass. Some Peninsula cities and environmental groups said they would have preferred that the bullet train use the Altamont Pass route, which would have resulted in a longer route between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto and environmental groups in 2008 sued to block the bullet train’s plan. They argued that the Peninsula route would harm the environment and they sued, citing the California Environmental Quality Act.
The estimated completion date for the initial 130-mile Central Valley segment is 2022 and for the entire San Francisco-to-Los Angeles system is 2028.