High Speed Rail

More Obstacles Crop Up for Calif. Bullet Train

From more federal bureaucracy, to possible obstruction from freight rail company, to accusations of secret bidding rule changes

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California's bullet train agency is facing a series of new regulatory and political problems that could jeopardize its July construction kickoff, which already has been delayed more than six months.

The new challenges are coming from a private railroad that controls a key right of way, a legislative committee delving into contracting issues and a powerful federal agency asserting authority over the project.

The rail agency is beginning to make purchase offers for land around Fresno and says it still plans to start building this summer.

But last week, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co., which operates a freight line that follows some of the 130-mile initial route in the Central Valley, warned in a blunt letter that no deal has been reached to build on or near its existing track. The company also signaled that it may not be willing to accept the project as proposed, in part because the exact route of the line is still unclear.