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Friday, Oct 25 2013 05:58 PM

Kings Co. high-speed rail foes ask judge to halt funds

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    By California High Speed Rail Authority

    An artist's conception of the bullet train speeding under the Tehachapi Pass.

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BY TIM SHEEHAN The Fresno Bee tsheehan@fresnobee .com

FRESNO -- Opponents of high-speed rail in Kings County have filed a court brief in Sacramento asking a judge to bar the California High-Speed Rail Authority from spending or committing any Proposition 1A bond money until the agency has complied with the 2008 ballot act.

The brief, filed Thursday on behalf of farmer John Tos, Hanford homeowner Aaron Fukuda and the Kings County Board of Supervisors, comes as the two sides prepare for a Nov. 8 hearing in Sacramento County Superior Court. There, a judge will hear arguments over what remedies should be imposed on the rail agency for violating funding and environmental requirements of Prop. 1A, the $9.9 billion bond measure approved by California voters.

Judge Michael Kenny ruled in August that the agency's 2011 financing plan did not comply with Prop. 1A because it did not identify where the state would get about $31 billion needed to complete its first operational segment between Merced and Los Angeles. Nor, the judge found, did the agency complete all of the environmental certifications needed for the operating segment, as required by the law.

The rail authority has argued it has not spent any Prop. 1A money for construction, instead relying on federal stimulus and transportation funds that must eventually be matched with state bond money. Tos, Fukuda and Kings County allege that by approving contracts for designing and building the first 29-mile stretch of the statewide line in the Fresno-Madera area, the state has essentially committed Prop. 1A money and violated the law.

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