(AP) A group representing Central Valley farmers said Thursday it has reached a settlement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority in a lawsuit that was one of the biggest obstacles to the state's $68 billion bullet train project.
If a judge accepts their agreement, it would provide a significant victory for supporters of what would be the nation's first high-speed rail system, including Gov. Jerry Brown. Public support has fallen as its costs have soared.
The proposed settlement was submitted Thursday to a Sacramento County Superior Court judge, a day before a scheduled hearing on the merits of the case, said Anja Raudabaugh, executive director of the Madera County Farm Bureau, the lead plaintiff in the case.
The Farm Bureau and other groups representing farmers whose land is in the path of the proposed train sued the authority last year, claiming that officials failed to follow the California Environmental Quality Act as they planned the route.
An official with the high-speed rail authority confirmed the settlement but was not authorized to discuss the case until a judge approved it. Details of the settlement were not immediately available.
The farm groups had sought a preliminary injunction that would have temporarily halted work while the case was heard. But Judge Timothy Frawley denied it last November, saying it appeared the California High-Speed Rail Authority "acted reasonably and in good faith" in trying to follow the state environmental laws. The ruling was an early indication that he did not think the farmers would win.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority already reached settlements in some of the other dozens of legal claims against the project.