HSRA Approves Pacheco Yet Again

HSRA Approves Pacheco Yet

04/19/12 Filed in:

On April 19, in
accordance with writs issued by the Sacramento
Superior Court in response to litigation by TRANSDEF
and its allies, the CA High-Speed Rail Authority
rescinded its previous certification of the 2010
Revised Final Program EIR for the Bay Area to Central
Valley portion of its HST project, and rescinded its
approval of the Pacheco route.

After that action, the Board certified a Partially
Revised Final Program EIR and adopted the Pacheco
route. While the result was the same as its 2010
action, this time was different. Authority Board
members went to great lengths to appear to seriously
consider the Altamont route. This was a striking
change from the arrogance of past Boards.
Nonetheless, the outcome was the same: nothing has

The Board heard strong testimony from
environmentalists as to the merits of the Altamont
route. TRANSDEF provided this testimony, which
criticized the EIR and called out the EIR preparers’
underhanded tricks:

Recognizing the biological impacts
of both the Pacheco and Altamont alternatives, we
submitted a new alternative comprised of the Altamont
Corridor Rail Project optimized for speed, coupled
with the blended approach from SJ to SF. This
alternative would avoid all the major impacts
identified in previous EIRs. The FEIR refused to
study this alternative, contrary to the mandate of
CEQA. I have sent you a letter this morning, and
handed in a hard copy here.

You as project sponsor are not legally entitled to
say “the full-build is our project– the blended
system is a mere implementation strategy.” When an
environmentally superior alternative is proposed, you
have to study it and adopt it. If you insist on
certifying this document, you will be back in court
and lose.
There is a very clear subtext to
the response to comments: It says to us “we’ve
already made up our minds where the tracks go. Please
don’t keep bothering us with rational arguments,
because we will never ever agree with you. Even when
you have strong arguments, we will make stuff up if
we have to, just to preserve our past decisions.” PB
claimed we said things that we hadn’t said, just so
that they could knock them down. It’s despicable and
unprofessional. And worst of all for you, wrong on
This is a new Board. You were not
responsible for the decisions of the past. Have you
learned anything from this organization’s two
previous expensive and time-consuming losses? Don’t
follow your consultants into yet another morass. You
are tasked by the Governor with setting a new tone
for this agency. Please do so by demonstrating
leadership and walking back from the brink. Please
send this EIR back for revisions consistent with

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