Kings County filed a lawsuit Monday against the California High Speed Rail Authority that calls for a permanent injunction against distributing funds from Prop 1A to the construction of the first segment of a statewide high-speed rail system in California.
The suit claims the plan to spend bond money from Prop 1A on the segment that would run from Fresno to Bakersfield does not fulfill the intent of the original proposition that approved the issuance of $9 billion in state bonds.
Voters never intended Prop 1A bond funds to be used "’preliminarily’ to build a non-electrified, substantially ‘conventional’ rail system, with an electrified HSR system to be constructed at a later period,” according to the text of the suit.
“No such allowance or permission for such a so-called phased system is contained in Prop 1A,” the suit states.
The suit also says the use of bond money for the construction of a rail system that is not electrified, violates the concept of a “true” high-speed rail system and “violates” Prop 1A.
The ballot label of the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act dated Sept. 2, 2008, does not mention electrification, or any other specific method of fueling the train system. The relevant portion of the text describes improving California’s economy “while reducing air pollution, global warming greenhouse gases, and our dependence on foreign oil, shall $6.95 billion in bonds be issued to establish a clean, efficient high-speed train service,” according to the California’s Secretary of State Office’s website.
The logistics of creating a high-speed rail system in the state have been contested since the bond was approved three years go. would eliminate the plan completely. Some local politicians would preseve it, with existing rail systems on the Peninsula. Recently, , after the and in the original were disputed.
Monday's suit says money should be spent “from the outset” on an electrified high-speed rail system, saying also that the central valley project is “ineligible” for prop 1A money.
Michael J. Brady, a lawyer based in Redwood City who is representing Kings County, says the future of the entire plan is grim. Depletion of $9 billion in funds before completion of the corridor is completed is likely, he said, noting that additional subsidies would be required to complete the segments of the corridors that would end in the Bay Area, and it is not likely that people will want to invest in the plan.
"I don't think private investors are going to be interested at all," Brady said. "Practically no high-speed rail system in the world earns a profit. The framework in California is much worse than those of the rest of the world and it's likely that they would have a huge loss every year."
Rail authorities plan to begin construction of the Central Valley in 2012. CHSRA representatives had not responded to inquiries for comment by the time of this article's publication.