High Speed Rail Authority settles case with Chowchilla

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comJanuary 28, 2013 

The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced a settlement Monday with the City of Chowchilla, ending one of several environmental lawsuits challenging the proposed location of the fast train.

Authority CEO Jeff Morales said the agreement brings the state one step closer to creating thousands of new jobs in California.“We greatly appreciate the City of Chowchilla's willingness to come to the table and work with the authority to resolve this case,” he said. “The authority is pleased to end this part of the litigation."

Under the settlement, the authority has agreed not to build along Highway 99 through the middle of the Chowchilla, said City Administrator Mark Lewis. "That would split the city in half," he said. "They've agreed not to pursue that route."

The authority has also agreed to pay the city $300,000 in legal fees and associated costs, Lewis said. In addition the authority agreed to pay for the city’s share of the administrative record, which “could be considerable,” said he added.

High-speed rail opponents were dealt a significant setback in November.

In a case that combined several legal challenges, including Chowchilla’s, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley ruled that construction of the project could move forward as the court battle plays out.

The case is expected to hear the first arguments in April.

The first section of the rail system from east of Madera to Fresno is scheduled to begin construction this summer.

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or jsmith@mercedsunstar.com.

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