A lawsuit filed in 2014 by Kern County against the California High-Speed Rail Authority will be dismissed under the terms of a settlement announced Wednesday afternoon by the state agency.
Kern County was among seven plaintiffs who filed lawsuits against the rail authority in June 2014, shortly after the authority’s board of directors voted to certify an environmental impact report and formally adopt a route for the Fresno-Bakersfield segment of the statewide rail project. The lawsuits, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, alleged that the environmental assessment was insufficient and thus violated the California Environmental Quality Act.
Details of the settlement were not immediately available. But in a written statement, rail authority CEO Jeff Morales said the agreement “represents our continued commitment to working with all of our partners across the state to resolve issues that allow us to move the program forward.”
This is the third of the seven CEQA lawsuits to be settled. The city of Bakersfield dropped its lawsuit in December 2014 after leveraging a commitment from the state to work jointly with the city on developing an alternative route into the city from the north instead of from the west, where it would disrupt a number of sensitive or historic resources. And a suit by Coffee-Brimhall LLC, a development company with a commercial project that would have been disrupted by the former route, was also dropped.
But four more CEQA lawsuits are still pending, filed by Kings County, the First Free Will Baptist Church of Bakersfield, Dignity Health, and the city of Shafter. And just last month, Kings County, local farmer John Tos, two Bay Area residents and several organizations sued the rail authority over the business financing plan it adopted to begin using money from Proposition 1A – a $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond measure approved by California voters in 2008 – for construction on the rail project.