Consternation continues over the recent rulings against the state high-speed rail project. To summarize, two state rulings prohibit the state HSR Authority from using bond money to fund construction of the first segment between Madera and Fresno, though design and property acquisition were allowed to continue. Another ruling, this time by the federal Surface Transportation Board, prevents the Authority from going through with construction because 5 miles of the previously approved route still require a completed environmental document. Undaunted, Authority CEO Dan Richard replied that these issues are typical of large public works projects. Richard believes that construction can start with federal grants and challenges can be countered in the coming months.
Stuart Flashman, an attorney who has represented clients in relation to HSR issues, asserts that the CAHSRA should start from scratch, scuttle the current route (which serves multiple population centers) and instead use a direct route using the I-5 and the Altamont Pass. Flashman claims that Central Valley cities should embrace upgraded Amtrak service as an alternative to HSR, despite the fact that even less funds for capital improvements towards the existing passenger rail network are available.