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California High-Speed Rail

Settlement Reached In California Bullet Train Suit

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Sacramento, CA -

A settlement between the Madera County Farm Bureau in the Central Valley and California's High-Speed Rail Authority could be a big win for Governor Brown.

If a Sacramento Superior Court Judge approves the settlement, it'll mean one less roadblock for the Rail Authority, which has been besieged with lawsuits over the $68 billion dollar project.

And the Governor, who is pivotal backer of the state's bullet train project, may have an easier time drumming up investors with another lawsuit out of the way.

"Far from being perfect, I believe this settlement forces the Authority to compensate and mitigate individual land owners for agricultural impacts this project will have on the farming community in Madera County," said Tom Coleman, the president of the Madera County Farm Bureau. "We were very concerned that even if we prevailed entirely in our CEQA case, we would not have been afforded these rigorous concessions."

The M.C.F.B. filed legal action against the Authority's environmental documents in June 2012, claiming that the mitigation measures provided for weren't adequate for agricultural impacts.

"The settlement actually increases the amount of mitigation the Authority is going to be required to provide to property owners and towards agricultural impacts," says Anja Raudabaugh, M.C.F.B. executive director. "It also provides for appropriate severance damages towards properties affected by the alignment of the high speed train."

The settlement agreement includes all joint petitioners as co-signatories, including the Merced County Farm Bureau, Chowchilla Water District, Preserve Our Heritage and the Fagundes Brothers Dairy entities.

Rail Authority chairman tells Fox 11 investigative producer Heidi Cuda: "We are committed to working in harmony with the agricultural community to preserve farmland in the Central Valley. This settlement clears the way for the Authority to move forward with construction of the first high-speed rail in the nation and shows we can build high-speed rail while preserving precious resources."

This is the fourth legal case that the Authority has settled in recent weeks.

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