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Judge backs state's high-speed rail over Central Valley farmers

  • FILE -- In this Sept. 13, 2012 file photo, a sign against the proposed high-speed rail system is seen at a home near the proposed route near Hanford, Calif. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley is expected to decide Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 whether to grant a preliminary injunction that would temporarily halt the project. Groups representing Central Vally farmers claim in the lawsuits that the California High Speed Rail Authority failed to conduct through environmental reviews and comply with public meeting laws. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

SACRAMENTO — A judge denied a request Friday from Central Valley farmers who sought to halt work on California's ambitious high-speed rail project, allowing work on the $68 billion project to continue at an aggressive pace.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley denied a request for a preliminary injunction, saying that the agency overseeing the project "acted reasonably and in good faith" in trying to comply with California environmental law.

Groups representing Central Valley farmers had hoped to stop the California High-Speed Rail Authority from all planning and engineering work because of their claims that the authority did not thoroughly weigh the potential environmental harms of the project.

Frawley did not rule on the merits of their case, which is expected to be heard this spring, but said he was persuaded that the state generally sought to comply with California's rigorous environmental laws, and that the potential harm to the state was much greater than the potential harm to farmers along the route.

The rail authority's chairman, Dan Richard, applauded the decision.


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