State Welcomes Challenges to High-Speed Rail

The state has sued you. Will you stop high-speed rail?

By Chris Roberts
|  Friday, Mar 29, 2013  |  Updated 7:46 AM PDT
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California High-Speed Rail Authority

rendering of California's planned high-speed rail line

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Sue now -- or forever hold your peace.

The California High Speed Rail Authority is using an arcane piece of state law to welcome all legal challenges to its biggest-ever public works project -- constructing a bullet train that would link California's major cities and be the United States's first high-speed rail network -- and hopefully receive approval from a judge that would negate all future legal challenges, according to reports.

"High-Speed Rail Authority v. All Persons Interested" is a "pre-emptive strike," according to the San Jose Mercury News. It consolidates all current and future challenges into one lawsuit, and also allows the project to continue free of legal encumbrances -- should the state win, of course.

Many lawyers, opponents and other entities across the state have already sued to halt the project, which voters approved in November 2008. Construction is to begin this summer. But before a single shovel can be put into the ground, the state needs to issue $8.6 billion in bonds to finance the initial stages of the $69 billion project, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Opponents of the measure, including retired judge Quentin Kopp, who once led efforts to build the train before turning against it, say that the project has increased in cost and been delayed so dramatically that the voter-approved initiative is no longer valid, the newspaper reported.

They -- and whoever else decides to join the lawsuit -- will square off in court against the office of state Attorney General Kamala Harris at a yet-undecided date.

The strategy may be effective, and it may also delay the project for even more years -- San Jose used a similar tactic and found its convention center construction delayed for a year while the courts dealt with a challenge from a single "gadfly," the newspaper reported.

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