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Supervisors Vote To Drop Lawsuit Against High Speed Rail

Submitted by District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler

Decision to Drop HSR Lawsuit Difficult but Necessary

MADERA COUNTY – On Tuesday, the Madera County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to withdraw from the joint lawsuit against the California High Speed Rail Authority. The decision was split with Supervisors Max Rodriguez, Manuel Nevarez and myself moving to drop the suit.

High Speed Rail is a lightning rod for disagreement in central California, and within our Board. My decision to end our support of the lawsuit stemmed primarily from my belief that litigation is not the best use of our resources.Although there are many, including me, who are skeptical of the project, I recognize that the people of California approved it and there is money in place to start it. It seems an almost certainty that at least the first phase will move forward. Overall, at least for the immediate future, it could be a financial boon to the County.

Nevertheless, well-minded individuals and jurisdictions have elected to pursue lawsuits to stop the project. Unfortunately, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuits, such as the one Madera County was a part of, will not stop a project. It will only delay it long enough to cure any defects in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

It will be a far better use of our resources for Madera County to come to the table willingly and negotiate mitigation measures that minimize any negative impacts, and ensure that we profit from the High Speed Rail project. We will accomplish so much more with participation in the process than by time-consuming confrontation.

I will, therefore, continue to support using our staff time to promote our County as a place to create high-paying jobs, both in construction and as long-term operators of a maintenance facility. If and when the High Speed Rail is built, I believe it’s crucial for Madera County to be in a position to reap every possible benefit.

Tom Wheeler

District 5

Madera County Board of Supervisors

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