Tos II Heading to Court on Slow Boat

The current major lawsuit against CHSRA, Tos II, had a Case Management Conference on Friday. An October 26 court hearing was set for a motion by Plaintiffs seeking a declaratory judgment that AB 1889 is facially unconstitutional. A judgment to that effect would trigger a request by Plaintiffs for an injunction blocking any use of Proposition 1A HSR Bond funds for construction. CHSRA will seek judgment on a cross-motion that AB 1889 is constitutional, so that CHSRA can rely on it in seeking bond funds to continue construction of its HSR project.  This case has been delayed by CHSRA for 17 months. Two demurrers were…

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Takedown of the HSR Business Plan

Edward Ring of the California Policy Institute offers a striking challenge to the financial assumptions in the High-Speed Rail Authority’s 2018 draft Business Plan. He offers a more conservative set of assumptions that result in a negative cash flow for operations out to the year 2059. A project like that simply is not financeable. While TRANSDEF does not agree with the author’s assumptions about boarding and travel-to-station times, we very much agree that this HSR project will not be affordable for commuting. We are convinced that the promotion of HSR as the solution to the commute woes of Central Valley…

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Flawed HSR Designs Pose Derailment Risk

Susan MacAdams, the former HSR Planning Manager for LA Metro, wrote to Brian Kelly, CEO of the California HSR Authority, today. In her Request For an Immediate Stop Work Order, she identified serious safety risks in the design of the structures now under construction in Fresno: “the design for the track curves across the Herndon Overpass structure north of Fresno is a public safety hazard and poses a serious threat to derailment.”   Summary: Combining a horizontal spiral that increases from zero to six inches of super-elevation with a maximum grade vertical curve built on top of a transitional structural support system in a geographical…

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Tos II Case Progresses

Tos II Case Progresses 05/25/17 Filed in: High-Speed Rail A hearing was held on April 26 on CHSRA’s Demurrer. The Court’s tentative ruling denied the motion for preliminary injunction and sustained the demurrer. At the hearing, the Court adopted the ruling on the motion for preliminary injunction, and took the demurrer under submission. The final ruling adopted the tentative ruling sustaining the demurrer, effectively knocking the case out of court, but granted leave to amend the Petition. Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Petition on May 25, in response. After the announcement of the Federal Transit Administration grant to Caltrain for its Electrification Project in May, 2017, the Director of the Department of Finance issued a…

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Disappointment in ARB Case

Disappointment in ARB Case 05/15/17 Filed in: High-Speed Rail | Climate Change After three years of hard work, TRANSDEF’s challenge to the California Air Resources Board’s adoption of its 2014 Scoping Plan was rejected today by the Court. Disappointingly, the decision was based purely on the technical, procedural objections brought by ARB. ARB never defended its decision to include a GHG-increasing measure in a plan intended to reduce GHGs. In oral argument, TRANSDEF’s attorney, Stuart Flashman, proposed a new way to look at CEQA GHG impacts–one that we have not heard being used before: Because of the global climate change…

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Change in Plans: Big Fireworks in Court April 18 & 19

Change in Plans: Big Fireworks in Court April 18 & 19 04/17/17 Filed in: High-Speed Rail All the briefs have now been filed in Tos II, a legal challenge to the constitutionality of AB 1889, the 2016 law that the High-Speed Rail Authority is relying on to claim eligibility for Proposition 1A bond funds for construction of its Central Valley segment. The hearing scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, at 9:00 in Department 54 in Sacramento Superior Court (in the Hall of Justice on 6th St., which is separate from the court complex), and the hearing scheduled for April 19 at 11:00…

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ARB Scoping Plan Comments Filed

ARB Scoping Plan Comments Filed 04/10/17 Filed in: Climate Change | Transportation Planning | High-Speed Rail The Air Resources Board produces a Scoping Plan every 5 years. It is the guiding document for the GHG emissions reductions needed to implement  California’s climate policy. TRANSDEF submitted a massive comment set, made up of: 1). General Comments; 2). VMT Reduction Comments, Attachment: Comments on State-wide Strategies; 3). Environmental Assessment Comments, Attachment: Comments on CHSRA 2016 Business Plan; and 4). Comments on Regional Emissions Reduction Targets. For more climate change resources, see this page. Tags: Highway Widening, HOT, HOV, CEQA, Carbon Tax, Induced Demand

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Oral Argument Scheduled

Oral Argument Scheduled 04/04/17 Filed in: High-Speed Rail Oral argument in our challenge to the Surface Transportation Board’s Declaratory Order that preempts CEQA actions from challenging the HSR project, is being rescheduled to June or July. A hearing will not be held on April 18. Tags: Preemption, CEQA, STB

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Briefing Continues in ARB case

TRANSDEF filed its Opening Brief in its challenge to ARB’s inclusion of HSR in its 2014 Scoping Plan. It’s been a long hard slog since we filed the case back in 2014, but things will move more quickly now. See this page for a copy of the brief, for ARB’s Opposition Brief, and for a description of the case’s complicated history over the past two years. Here’s the Brief’s Conclusion: TRANSDEF does not oppose, and indeed strongly supports, almost all of the Updated Scoping Plan; but TRANSDEF opposes inserting a measure into the Scoping Plan that does not and cannot meet the…

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Allies Challenge AB 1899’s Constitutionality

Allies Challenge AB 1899’s Constitutionality 01/31/17 Filed in: High-Speed Rail Five individuals, three non-profit organizations, the Town of Atherton and Kings County amended their lawsuit today, seeking a ruling that the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s (CHSRA) efforts to obtain construction funding from a voter-approved bond measure violate the state constitution. The case is the second one filed as Tos v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, or Tos II. Legal papers are available here. The Third District Court of Appeal had previously ruled that Prop. 1A, the 2008 $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond measure, created a “financial straitjacket” restricting the use of the bond funds. Plaintiffs allege in their suit that the Legislature’s passage of…

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