LOS ANGELES (CN) – The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s plan to use hundreds of thousands of federal stimulus dollars to study alternative rail routes – and eliminate a stop in Palmdale – could doom the project, the high desert city claims in Federal Court.
Palmdale says the authority is misusing state and federal money to study a route along Interstate 5, known as the Grapevine alignment.
The Grapevine alignment would cancel a Palmdale stop between Bakersfield and Los Angeles.
“Using such funds improperly could result in the loss of federal funding for the HSR [High-Speed Rail] project and probably the demise of the HSR project altogether,” Palmdale says.
The city claims the $700,000 study is “outside the scope” of actions allowed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which authorized $194 million for California.
Palmdale also claims the authority risks losing $9 billion in state bonds because California taxpayers approved state funding in 2008 – with a Palmdale station.
The city adds that a 2003 study concluded that Palmdale is a more desirable option than the Grapevine route.
“The City of Palmdale has invested a tremendous amount of resources, time and energy to ensure that a Palmdale stop between Bakersfield and Los Angeles becomes a reality,” Palmdale City Manager Steve Williams said in a statement.
“Our city and local businesses have made significant investments with this alignment – an alignment that the people of this state approved.”
Palmdale’s attorney Deborah Fox, with Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson, told Courthouse News: “Revisiting previously rejected routes for the high speed rail will waste millions in taxpayers’ dollars, devastates the local and regional economies and denies the voters their due of starting construction of the Antelope Valley segments.
“Instead, the Authority defaults to a state of paralysis in analysis.”
High Speed Rail Authority spokeswoman Rachel Wall said that while she understood why Palmdale is fighting to bring high speed rail to the city it is “going about it the wrong way.”
“Palmdale knows high-speed rail will provide unprecedented economic benefits and improved transportation connectivity. But 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,” Wall told Courthouse News.
If completed, the 700-mile High Speed Rail system would connect Sacramento, San Francisco, the Central Valley, Los Angeles and San Diego.