Courts May Have Last Word on Trains

A county judge says the California high-speed rail project violates the law approved by voters in 2008. But he won’t decide to issue an order halting the project until after another hearing, for which a date hasn’t yet been set.


The Reason Foundation’s Adrian Moore and Antiplanner friend Wendell Cox discuss California high-speed rail.

The Contra Costa Times lists many of the ways the project as planned today violates the 2008 ballot measure: the construction cost has doubled; the projected ticket prices have gone up; the speeds are slower; and the projected opening date is already nine years behind schedule. But the judge only rules that the project had failed to complete its environmental review and find funds to finance the entire project, not just a few miles in the Central Valley.

Not discouraged, the High-Speed Rail Authority is attempting to low ball business owners in its efforts to buy right of way for the project. Even if the authority breaks ground on construction, it will never be completed unless fiscal liberals manage to take both houses of Congress soon.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will soon decide whether to halt construction on the $5 billion Honolulu rail project. A district court has already ruled that the environmental impact statement for the project failed to consider all alternatives. The city hopes to overturn that while rail opponents hope to get an even broader statement against the rail project.

Another court case had already stopped the project pending archeological surveys. But construction is scheduled to resume in September unless the Ninth Circuit stops it. In both California and Hawaii, it is yet to be seen whether “illegal” means halting construction or is simply a mild rebuke against wildly expensive boondoggles.

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8 thoughts on “Courts May Have Last Word on Trains

  1. Sandy Teal

    Can somebody tell me why the California High Speed Rail doesn’t violate NEPA or CEPA because of segmentation — i.e. it only funds and builds a segment that doesn’t deliver any of the environmental benefits that are used to justify it?

  2. prk166

    I’m not familiar with the law nor the legal background on these issues. In the grand scheme of things it would make sense that any public referendum needs to be held to doing what it says it would do. There’s some reasonable wiggle room there. But if the public approves a new tax for a $10 billion highway project to be built in the next 5 years only for it’s costs to triple and not get built for another 15 or 20, IMHO that’s not keeping in the spirit of things; it’s not what the voters approved. I wouldn’t limit it to rail projects but California’s HSR and metro Denver’s Fastracks are 2 that come to mind that are abusing the voters in that sense.

  3. msetty

    Typical Wendell Cox intellectually dishonesty in the video (min. 11:00) quoting Jim Mills about Mills’ opposition to the current bad CA high speed plan, which appears to have been derailed by Judge Kenny’s ruling on August 16th. As someone who knows Jim Mills and much about his decades of working for sensible rail transit of all kinds, I can assure you he’d disavow Cox and everything he stands for.

  4. metrosucks

    Transit consultant=foul mouthed asshole who shills for huge corporate profits derived from fleecing taxpayers with utterly useless, expensive choo choo projects.

    Sensible rail transit=any super expensive and dubiously useful rail project that lines the pockets of the clients of said transit consultant, and is paid for by anyone but the expected riders of the train.

  5. metrosucks

    So who does pay your salary, Mikey? I’m guessing NOYB on your site means taxpayers have done so, and are doing so, in one way or another. I sell and resell useful products that people willingly buy. I don’t need the governor of my state, or the legislature, to sign some billion dollar bill to make a buck. I’m willing to bet anything you’ve never made an honest private sector buck in your life. What private sector company could possibly want to hire or pay a foul-mouthed asshole like you, for anything, except maybe Big Rail that probably keeps you on a leash to bark at their unorganized opponents.

  6. letsgola

    “huge corporate profits”… you do realize that the vast majority of consultants are paid cost plus fixed fee (i.e. a fixed profit) right?

    In general, it is bad for the courts to have this much say, regardless of the merits of the particular project. The Anti-Planner’s beloved freeway projects can be stopped the same way.

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