Expo Line opponents Neighbors for Smart Rail filed a re-hearing petition today. This comes on the heels of the decision by the state Public Utilities Commission to approve crossings for Expo Line Phase II, which was thought to be the final nail in the coffin for Cheviot Hills obstructionists. (View the panel voting on the matter during an otherwise dull meeting.)
A California judge ruled against the state High Speed Rail Authority by stating that the agency failed to identify sources for most of the $31 billion required to build an initial operating segment of the HSR line. The judge referred to a provision outlined in the voter-approved Proposition 1A which calls for the state to identify the funds for said segment before starting construction. However, the judge stopped short of placing any kind of injunction against the project, saying that any solution is in the hands of the state legislature and that another hearing will be held to address possible remedies. This comes on the same day that the Authority announced it has signed a contract with the joint venture led by Tutor Perini to commence construction.
Governor Jerry Brown, an ardent champion of the project, vowed that the ruling will not stop work as scheduled and believed a remedy can be found per the judge’s belief. The Sacramento Bee editorial board asked those following the developments to keep things in perspective, since HSR construction will bring jobs in an economically depressed region. In the meantime, the Authority continues to acquire parcels for construction, including one that houses a popular burger joint in Fresno. However, the owners negotiated with the Authority to turn over the property at a price that was higher than initially offered.