News

No settlement in high-speed-rail lawsuit

Peninsula attorney says rail authority insisted on four tracks

Efforts to settle a lawsuit filed against the California High-Speed Rail Authority failed nine days after they started because the agency insisted on a four-track system, according to the attorney representing three local cities in the suit.

"Suffice it to say the mediation was unsuccessful and we're back on the litigation track," Stuart Flashman told the Almanac Wednesday, July 25. He estimated the case will take at least a year now to resolve "one way or the other."

Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto sued the authority over aspects of the environmental impact report for the high-speed rail project, including projected ridership figures and the impact of various design scenarios on their cities.

Flashman said that one key obstacle to a settlement was the authority's insistence on a four-track system as recommended in the environmental impact report.

Even though the lawsuit wends its way slowly through the courts, the actual project got a jump start on July 6 when state lawmakers approved funding for the first phase of the $68 billion project.

According to the plaintiffs' attorney, the key funding vote for the Peninsula portion of the project is five to 10 years away. "As most insiders know, the legislature's limitation on the use of funds in the initial appropriation is nothing but a smokescreen," he said. "Those funds won't be used on the Peninsula except for Caltrain electrification in any case."

He said the funding legislation does not permanently prohibit using high-speed rail funds for a four-track system along the Peninsula, despite statements to the contrary from legislators who voted for the bill.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim
a resident of University South
on Jul 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm

How much money is being wasted on all these lawsuits? And whose?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Another 'bait and switch' by the High-Speed Rail Authority.

HSR promised to scale back to a two-track system on Caltrain peninsula tracks, and legislators relied on those assurances during deliberations preceding their vote.

Now HSR attorneys are effectively saying 'fooled you again.'

How many negative surprises can HSR deliver before this rises to criminal conduct? Why should anyone trust a word HSR says?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julian
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm

@Barbara: you said it!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Frankie
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I darn well trust that the city is not using tax payer money to fuel this frivolous lawsuit. If so those involved must revisit the ethics of democracy as these monies would be better spentrepresenting the majority of Palo Altans that support the bullet train. Let's work on beautifying the rail as it passes on through by spending on mitigation such as planting tree walls and noise cancelling technologies.




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Posted by Nelson
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm

High speed rails must run on its own exclusive and independent tracks. In Japan, trains can attain speeds of 240 km/h, but ongoing projects to raise peak speeds at 300 km/h aim at maintaining competitiveness of rail passenger transport versus air. In France, the TGV Sud-Est (Trains a Grande Vitesse) reaches speeds of 270 km/h while the TGV Atlantique can cruise at speeds of 300 km/h. One of the key advantages of such a system is since passengers trains have their exclusive tracks, the efficiency of rail freight transport increases as it inherit the almost exclusive use of the conventional rail system. You avoid accidents as well...so no wonder the Governor and the HSRA wants 4 tracks. Do you think this blended approach was anything more than a diluted vision by a skeptic lawyered up "NIMBY". Wake up Palo Alto and take the lead -- withdraw and save face. Support the 4 track system and the Governor. Your polls are all fantasy. The voters voted for a HSR, not a mush mash of blended tracks and unsafe control networks. Isolation is the solution for HSR. They will only add cars and the population will only increase. Where is your blended system then? No thanks to "blended".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2012 at 8:24 pm

It's so obvious that these CHSRA people are outright liars. The day after the vote in the legislature, I read that Gorden and Hill thought the Peninsula had won because CHSRA had "promised" only two-tracks on the Peninsula (the infamous "blended system"). Then a few days later we read that CHSRA wanted 3 tracks from California Ave north for about 15 miles. Now they won't settle the lawsuit because they insist on 4 tracks! HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE PEOPLE TO WAKE UP? Is the citizenry blissfully unaware of the chicanery that's taking place?
Chicanery that Jerry Brown is aiding and abetting. I will definitely vote AGAINST Brown's tax-increase initiative in November. It will be his fault for pushing the state into deeper and deeper debt so he could have a legacy to match his father's aquaduct project and pay back the construction companies and labor unions for their support against Meg Whitman. It's really sad when the only way that CHSRA can get its way is through deception (the way Nov. 2008 ballot initiative was framed), false promises (that the public would be involved in the design process when it was just a way of giving the public a way of thinking it would have an influence), lying (re the 4 tracks), and effective bribery (including pork for the districts of Democratic Senators to get them to vote for Brown's fiasco). I have never seen a more cynical ramrod process in my life. It's simultaneously nauseating and infuriating.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm

@Frankie: you're blowing smoke. What's your evidence for believing that a majority of Palo Altans "support the bullet train"? Please don't say the election of 2008! That's too stupid an answer to take seriously. We've come a heck of a long way since then. Unless Palo Alto differs markedly from the most recent state-wide polls done, the sentiment in this city has shifted dramatically as we've learned that project won't cost anything like represented, realized the grim state of the economy in CA, and seen what a bunch of incompetent liars are in charge of this fiasco project.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm

@Nelson: you wrote, "Support the 4 track system and the Governor. Your polls are all fantasy."
Really, and what evidence do you have that the latest Field Polls are "fantasy"? Frankly, sir, your statement is based on nothing more than wish-fulfillment. Your hope that they are fantasy has morphed into a claim that they definitely are fantasy. All you have is the fact that 52.7% of the voters were duped into voting to support the deceptive Prop. 1A in Nov. 2008. Ever since then, as the nature of this boondoggle began to become clear, public opinion has turned against it. To you, that's all "fantasy." Au contraire, monsieur, au contraire.

P.S. Support the Governor? That's rich!!! Why should any fiscally responsible citizen support Jerry Brown on this project when he got it through the Legislature by sneaky timing and de facto bribes/pork to legislators and when his support stems from a promise to pay back the unions and construction firms for supporting him against Whitman. There's not a damned thing noble or admirable about what Jerry Brown has done re HSR. To the contrary.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rockridge Kid
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm

The communities that are engaging in this litigation better remember that Stuart Flashman is not a planner, he is a litigator. He will not make it a better project. He ALWAYS attempts to delay the projects, force the opponents to spend time and money in lengthy court proceedings in hope the project will be withdrawn.

A more effective strategy would be to negotiate funding for reasonable mitigation measures.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bonnie B
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Dec 29, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Litigation just raises the price of the project. We need to find a way to negotiate that doesn't add to the cost of an already expensive undertaking. We are going to have HSR. The question is how much are we, the residents, willing to raise the price tag, so we can have a basically futile argument. I don't want to pay someone hundreds of dollars per hour to argue this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 30, 2013 at 10:34 am

You are reacting to news that is almost 6 months old.

The lawsuits have worked and HSR is now far from, "We are going to have HSR."

No funding, no viable budget, no private investors = no HSR. Jerry Brown and the labor unions are not going to pull off this multi billion dollar boondoggle.


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