Companies drop high-speed rail lawsuit

Timeless Investments of Fresno headed up a lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority last JuneTimeless Investments of Fresno headed up a lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority last JuneFour Central Valley businesses that brought a lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority have dropped their litigation against the project.

Fresno companies Timeless Investments, Millennium Acquisitions, Horizon Enterprises and Everspring Alliance cited CEQA violations when they brought their suit against the project's Merced-to-Fresno section last June.

As part of the dismissal agreement, neither the companies or the California High-Speed Rail Authority will seek to recover legal fees and costs associated with the litigation.

In its lawsuit, the companies claimed that the authority didn't fully assess the environmental impacts or propose adequate mitigation measures when it approved an environmental impact report for the 60-mile section last May.

Specifically, the lawsuit challenged the authority's chosen "Hybrid" alignment, which follows the Union Pacific rail line along Highway 99 out of Fresno and then veers northeast toward the Burlington North Santa Fe right of way just north of the San Joaquin River.

The City of Chowchilla settled a similar lawsuit with the California High-Speed Rail Authority last month. That agreement will have the authority adjusting its alignment to avoid the city's Wye Area where a large annexation along Avenue 24 is being planned for a new commercial, entertainment and industrial development.

The Sacramento Superior Court has yet to rule on a lawsuit filed by the farm bureaus of Madera and Merced counties.

The authority is working with $5.8 billion in federal funds to complete the 130-mile Valley portion of the rail line from Merced to Bakersfield by September 2017.

Final environmental documents for the project's 114-mile section from Fresno to Bakersfield is expected to be released early this  year.