The city of Palmdale came out swinging on Tuesday, filing a motion in federal court that seeks a temporary injunction to keep the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) from spending certain funds for a study of a rail line along Interstate 5.

“Again we're asking why are we wasting taxpayer money to study a route that has already been shown to be inferior on so many levels?” Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford complains in a prepared statement.

Palmdale officials filed a lawsuit earlier in the month against CHSRA, determined to keep a rail line away from I-5 and maintain a route that would bring a high speed rail station to their city in northern Los Angeles County.

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford and City Manager Manager Steve Williams obviously believe high speed rail will bring major economic benefits to their city, and they see those dollars drifting away if an Antelope Valley route is not approved.

“The city of Palmdale, local businesses and our residents have made significant investments of time, resources and energy to bring high speed rail to Palmdale,” says Williams in a prepared statement.

Interestingly, when we attended a high speed rail conference a year ago or so, experts were saying that building a route along an existing freeway or highway was usually the best way to go — construction was easier and cheaper.

So it's not hard to understand why CHSRA is looking to study a route along I-5.

Palmdale folks, though, are freaking out.

“The CHSRA is playing fast and loose with the voters of the state and the taxpayers monies as this 'conceptual' Grapevine alignment was analyzed and rejected in 2005 and is not authorized by either funding source,” says Palmdale City Attorney Matthew Ditzhazy.

He adds, “Over a year ago, the California Attorney General specifically advised the CHSRA that it could not use Proposition 1A bond funds to change or eliminate portions of the selected route. The CHSRA ignores the advice of its own legal counsel and proceeding with this improper study could jeopardize both funding sources and the California High-Speed Rail Project itself.”

Kinda sounds like the fighting words we heard for the recent L.A. Weekly cover story “Beverly Hills Versus the Westside Subway,” in which Beverly Hills officials are fighting Metro over a controversial station location in Century City.

We'll see what a federal judge says about all this on August 22 when he takes up the motion.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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