A Sacramento Superior Court judge delivered a major rebuke to the California bullet train project Friday, ruling that the state failed to comply with requirements on funding and environmental reviews imposed by voters.
In a closely watched case, Judge Michael P. Kenny stopped short of immediately shutting down the project or ruling that the Legislature made illegal appropriations. But he scheduled a future hearing on how the violations of state law can be remedied.
The ruling threatens to further delay the $68-billion project that has lagged behind schedule before ground has been broken. The decision could ultimately force the state to devise a new plan that conforms to strict financial and environmental protections included in a $9-billion ballot measure approved in 2008.
"It destroys the state's timetable for the project," said former state Sen. Quentin Kopp, an early architect of the system who recently turned against it. "This ruling destroys the representations of the high-speed-rail authority."
Kenny ruled that the state failed to identify where it would get all of the money required to complete an initial $31-billion operating segment between Merced and the San Fernando Valley. The state has also failed to obtain environmental clearances for the entire segment, the judge found.