Whatever you think of the idea of taking a fast train from L.A. to the Bay, it has so far turned out to be more fantasy than reality, even though it was successfully pitched to voters in 2008.
See also: $100 Billion Bullet Train.
Californians approved $10 billion in bond money for the high-speed rail project, but today a judge said the California High-Speed Rail Authority couldn't actually issue the bonds and get that money:
Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny said the threshold the state had to meet, of finding it "necessary and desirable" to issue bonds, was not met by the Authority.
The judge also ruled that state rail officials must redo their $68 billion funding plan. Both of these decisions, if they hold, could put on hold for years the dream of shooting up to San Francisco via rail in two-and-a-half hours.
The anti-government-spending group called the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which says that dream was always a lie anyway, hailed the decisions today.
Jon Coupal, president of the organization, told us that "I think it's the beginning of the end" for this Obama administration-backed project.
Rail officials, who didn't get back to us before we published, are apparently saying that they can still spend about $3.2 billion in federal funds to get this project off the ground in the meantime.
The Association says the project will cost billions more -- perhaps $100 billion-plus -- than advertised. And it argues that "high speed" is a stretch:
... The revised system strayed far from what the voters intended. The idea of dedicated track for a high speed system was tossed aside in favor of a "blended system" where high speed trains would compete for track space with commuter and freight lines, which would significantly increase commute time.
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Coupal told us he expects the state Authority to appeal the decision.
[Added at 4:40 p.m.]: Authority Board of Directors Chairman Dan Richard issued this statement:
We are reviewing both decisions to chart our next steps, but it is important to stress that the court again declined the opposition's request to stop the high-speed rail project from moving forward. Additionally, the judge did not invalidate the bonds as approved by the voters in Proposition 1A. Like all transformative projects, we understand that there will be many challenges that will be addressed as we go forward in building the nation's first high-speed rail system.