California Governor Jerry Brown’s not so little engine that could permanently wreck the California economy looks like it may be the little engine that couldn’t get built. Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled on Monday that the state could not proceed with its plans to sell $8 billion of the $10 billion in bonds that voters allotted the $68 billion bullet train in 2008.
Kenny also ruled in another lawsuit that the train authority had to redo its $68 billion funding plan before it continued building the train, which could take quite some time. He had already ruled that the rail authority erroneously approved a funding plan that ran afoul of the law and that the state didn’t identify “sources of funds that were more than merely theoretically possible.”
In 2008, California Proposition 1A required the rail authority to specify where they were going to get the money and environmental clearances for the train’s first operable segment, which ran 300 miles, and cost $31 billion. Kenny ruled on August 16 of this year that the bullet train plan could not proceed unless it had all the funding for the first 300 miles segment and all of the environmental reviews completed.
The rail authority had stated that it already updated its funding plan and that it would rely on $3.2 billion in federal money to get started before it began selling bonds. But now, as Michael Brady, a lawyer representing Central Valley residents who had sued to stop the train’s construction, said, “The court said, look, you’ve only got 28 miles with completed environmental clearances. I order that you have to have 300 miles of environmental clearances. It’s taken them 5 years to do 28 miles, so how long will it take them to do 300 miles?”
The first leg of the train to be built was supposed to be from Madera to Fresno. As Roger Hedgecock, the former mayor of San Diego, said, “I never did understand going from one state prison town to another state prison town in the first link. I thought it was the conjugal visit express.” He added that the bullet train is making the farmers in the water-starved Central Valley even more upset, adding, “The farmers down there, they don’t know what to do down there because they don’t know whether the land is going to be, (in the Central Valley), be condemned, they don’t know whether the right of way is going to cut up their farm.”