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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

California city files lawsuit against CHSRA over Grapevine route study


Yesterday, the city of Palmdale, Calif., filed a federal lawsuit to prevent the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) from using federal grants and Proposition 1A bond funds to study an alternative route for the high-speed rail project in the Antelope Valley.

The authority plans to review an Interstate 5/Grapevine corridor that would route trains away from Palmdale, which has long supported bringing high-speed rail to the area, Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said in a prepared statement. CHSRA studied and later rejected the Grapevine route more than eight years ago, added city attorney Matthew Ditzhazy.

“In 2008, the voters approved Proposition 1A, approving and establishing funding for a high-speed rail project that includes a station in the city of Palmdale,” he said. “Using Proposition 1A funds and corresponding federal grants 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.”

That’s because the route would reach fewer people and has been strongly resisted by environmental groups, Ledford said, adding that the route also decreases the high-speed rail system’s intermodal connectivity because it bypasses a regional airport, Metrolink station, the High Desert Corridor freeway alignment, state routes 14 and 38 and the future Desert Xpress corridor to Las Vegas.

However, federal regulations require CHSRA to study options for its various high-speed rail corridors, said authority spokesman Rachel Wall in an email.

“The bottom line is that [Palmdale] supports high-speed rail and is fighting to bring the rail alignment to their region, but they are going about it the wrong way,” she said. “The authority’s federal funding grant agreement explicitly calls for evaluating alternative routes, and the authority must consider alternatives as part of the environmental review required by both state and federal law. Studying the Grapevine alignment falls squarely within that alternatives analysis process.”

Angela Cotey

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/7/2011