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.