Plans for a bullet train in California blasted through a major obstacle with the settlement of an environmental lawsuit against the project, the California High-Speed Rail Authority announced on Thursday.
Here’s the press release:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In a major step forward, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority), the Madera County Farm Bureau, Merced County Farm Bureau, Chowchilla Water District, Preserve Our Heritage and the Fagundes parties today announced that they have reached a settlement agreement. This settlement agreement brings to an end the final California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit challenging the Merced to Fresno project section Environmental Impact Report. The agreement provides for the preservation of important farmland and mitigation of effects of high-speed rail construction on agricultural operations.
The settlement agreement is a mutually beneficial agreement that integrates local expertise into the agricultural mitigation for the project section and provides protections for the agricultural community in Madera and Merced County and the Central Valley. The agreement also provides consultation on the Central Valley Wye to ensure that all concerns are addressed.
“On behalf of the Authority’s Board of Directors, we are committed to working in harmony with the agricultural community to preserve farmland in the Central Valley,” said Chairman Dan Richard. “This settlement clears the way for the Authority to move forward with construction of the first high-speed rail system in the nation and shows we can build high-speed rail while preserving precious resources.”
“We were able to achieve some significant additional protections for agriculture in Madera and Merced Counties,” said Tom Coleman, President of the Madera County Farm Bureau.
“This settlement brings the lawsuit to an end but begins a new chapter in working with the agricultural community to move the project forward,” said Jeff Morales, CEO of the Authority. “This agreement is evidence that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is working positively with all affected communities to address their concerns as we embark on this complex project.”
The court case was to be heard in Sacramento County Superior Court on April 19, 2013. This is the fourth legal case that the Authority has settled in recent weeks.