Today the California State Senate approved the issuance of $2.6 billion in state bonds to fund the development and construction of a high-speed rail system, which will allow the State to receive $3.2 billion dollars in matching funds from the federal government for the project. The Assembly passed the plan on Thursday.
The first segment of construction will be in the Central Valley, between Merced and Fresno, where the funding can begin to provide badly needed jobs, support for long-range smart growth and land use planning around the high-speed rail station hubs. Ultimately, high-speed rail will create significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants as rail transit will provide an efficient alternative to automobile travel between the major metropolitan areas of California.
Three CEQA lawsuits are pending in Sacramento County Superior Court challenging the adequacy of the EIR prepared for the Merced to Fresno section of the high-speed rail project. A ruling on the merits of the petitions is anticipated in early 2013, before the expected start of construction in the spring of 2013.