SACRAMENTO, Calif. Feb 18 A California appeals
court has agreed to expedite its review of a lower court ruling
that could derail Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build an
800-mile high-speed rail system in the most populous U.S. state,
court documents showed.
The decision by the third district court of appeals, issued
on Friday in response to a request by the state for a speedy
ruling, relates to California's appeal of a November decision by
a California judge against the state's plan to issue more than
$8 billion in bonds to help build the rail system.
The initial ruling by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge
Michael Kenney said there was too little information to support
a decision by the authority overseeing the project to move
forward with the sale of the bonds.
Kenney also ordered the state to re-do its financial plan
for the project. H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the governor's
department of finance, said the appeals court had now put that
order on hold.
The appeals court instructed the state to submit its
arguments against the lower court ruling by early April.
The rail system, a priority of Brown's, would send
passengers hurtling through the state's fertile San Joaquin
Valley as they travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Lines
would eventually extend to San Diego and Sacramento.
The project, now estimated to cost $68 billion, has been
dogged by controversy with questions over its planned routes,
ridership estimates and projected costs.
Brown, a Democrat, and other project supporters say the rail
network will prove to be a jobs boon for California and
transform the state's transportation infrastructure by linking
far-flung metropolitan areas.
Kenney's initial ruling did not halt the project, which has
more than $3 billion in federal funds at its disposal.