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As I monitor the CA high speed rail project status I see that the CA HSRA is flying by the seat of their pants as confirmed by recent plans to go back to the drawing board resulting in a change in plans. Statewide activists oversight challenging multiple facets of the project are forcing them to scramble to get rails in the ground before the federal stimulus funds are lost.
Their recent decision to go back to the Grapevine route to save time and money has led to backlash. Change Orders are not “free.” Somehow they overlooked the impact of that decision on the prior alignment which has resulted in the following litigation. The city of Palmdale was looking forward to the possibility of connecting their HSR station to a future maglev train to Las Vegas. Nice going. And I imagine that the Board members are held harmless for any legal costs created by their “wing it” actions.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CITY OF PALMDALE
CONTACT: John Mlynar
DATE: July 6, 2011
Palmdale Files Federal Lawsuit Against California High Speed Rail Authority
PALMDALE – The City of Palmdale filed a lawsuit against California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) on Wednesday, July 6 in United States District Court to prevent the Authority from illegally using Federal grant funds and Proposition 1A bond funds to study an alternative Interstate 5/Grapevine route for the California High Speed Rail Project that was previously considered and rejected over eight years ago.
“The people of California approved the passage of Proposition 1A bond funds for the high speed rail project that specifically listed Palmdale as one of the stops on the route and the federal grant does not allow for this Grapevine alignment restudy,” said Palmdale City Attorney Matthew Ditzhazy. “Surreptitiously, the CHSRA board is attempting to use that bond money, and restricted Federal grant funds, to study an alternative route over the Grapevine—a route that has already been studied and rejected.”
“In 2008, the voters approved Proposition 1A approving and establishing funding for a High-Speed Rail project that include a station in the city of Palmdale,” said Ditzhazy. “Using Proposition 1A funds, and corresponding Federal grant funds, to study an alignment outside of the approved sections is illegal, contrary to the will of the voters, and places the entire High-Speed Rail project in jeopardy.”
“Since 1992, the City of Palmdale has been a driving force in bringing the Antelope Valley to the table in terms of high speed rail,” said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. “It makes absolutely no sense to use taxpayer dollars to study a route that has been shown to be inferior on so many levels. To change the route and take it through an area with few people and a strong resistance from environmental groups instead of a stop that is wanted by a community and has the potential to reach millions of people is totally absurd. Furthermore, the I-5 route completely bypasses our intermodel connectivity that is coming to Palmdale with our regional airport, a Metrolink Station, the High Desert Corridor freeway alignment at Avenue P-8, State Routes 14 and 138 and the soon-to-be started Desert Xpress train to Las Vegas,” Ledford said.
“The City of Palmdale has invested a tremendous amount of resources, time and energy to ensure that a Palmdale stop between Bakersfield and Los Angeles becomes a reality,” said Palmdale City Manager Steve Williams. “Our City and local businesses have made significant investments with this alignment—an alignment that the people of this State approved.”