Message from Executive Director
California’s high-speed rail (HSR) project is building real momentum. On the heels of an election that assures ongoing political support (see CA4HSR’s election analysis), the project won a very significant judgment in court on November 16th. Judge Timothy Frawley ruled against plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction, which would have stopped work on the Fresno to Merced section. The ruling applies to three lawsuits, which were combined for the purposes of the court hearing. The lawsuits were filed by: 1) Madera and Merced County Farm Bureaus, Madera County, and property owners in Madera and Merced counties; 2) City of Chowchilla; and 3) companies that own property along the rail route in Fresno and Madera counties.
Many of Judge Frawley’s reasons for rejecting the preliminary injunction bode well for the project in future court proceedings. One key reason he gave was that delaying the project is a greater risk overall than is the risk to individual farmers and property owners. Judge Frawley seems to be acknowledging that the loss of a key transportation asset and the thousands of jobs it will create, as well as several billion dollars in federal funding are far greater risks to California than are the impacts to a few thousand acres of farmland (which by the way will be mitigated) and other properties. There really is no comparison when one considers the need for transportation capacity in relation to rapid population growth. Further, building more highways and continuing the sprawl patterns of land use will consumed far greater amounts of land, so the opponents’ arguments just don’t hold water. While this is a great victory, the lawsuits will still move forward in the coming months as this decision was only a rejection of an injunction that precedes the actual hearings of the lawsuits themselves. CA4HSR is following this saga closely, so stay tuned.
As we all head into the Thanksgiving holiday, we can feel good that California’s HSR project is in a very strong position, having prevailed over numerous and overwhelming obstacles in recent months and years. The fact they we have come this far gives me confidence that as long as we stay vigilant, we are going to be successful in making HSR a reality.
Have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!
President & Executive Director, Californians For High Speed Rail
Given that HSR is moving forward in California, the US HSR Association is organizing a second 2012 HSR conference in California in Los Angeles from December 3-5 (the first one was in San Francisco this past May). These conferences provide excellent networking opportunities for all involved with HSR. CA4HSR’s Daniel Krause will be speaking twice at the conference on the following topics: 1) Transit-Oriented Development around HSR Stations; and 2) The Status of the California Project from an Advocacy and Political Perspective.
The US HSR Association has graciously offered free access to CA4HSR members if they are willing to put in a few volunteer hours. Please call 202-248-5001 if you are interesting in volunteering. For others, they have extended the deadline to get a $200 discount through Black Friday.
The much delayed EIR-EIS for the Fresno-Bakersfield Section has reached a key milestone with the release of a revised draft of the document. CA4HSR submitted a comment letter with the following key positions:
- Support new Hanford West Bypass Alternative
- Support the Corcoran Bypass
- Support the Allensworth Bypass
- No position of BNSF through Wasco-Shafter v. the Wasco-Shafter Bypass
- Support Fresno Station Mariposa Alternative
- Support Kings/Tulare Station West Alternative
- No Position on Bakersfield Station alternative with the caveat that any station alternative selected should be located near the Amtrak station and not further east.
Listen to CA4HSR’s Daniel Krause Radio Interview with Central Valley Air Quality Coalition
For a good summary of the issues facing the HSR in the Central Valley, please listen to the 30-minute radio interview of CA4HSR’s Daniel Krause by the Associate Director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition Dolores Weller.