In a ruling last week, a judge prevented the state from selling $8.6 billion in bonds for the project and ordered officials to write a new funding plan and ensure that all environmental clearances are in place for the first 300 miles of track in the
On Wednesday, federal regulators rejected a request to exempt a segment in the
The three-member Surface Transportation Board said state officials hadn't presented any compelling reason why conditional approval should be given before an environmental impact review is completed.
The decision could force a delay in designing and building a five-mile stretch of the route in
"With their decision today, the board opted for the same process used in their approval of the
The $68 billion project would run trains from
But without the board's support for the remaining five-mile section, the contract will likely have to be renegotiated, state officials said.
The decision was the latest blow for the ambitious project. A
The judge also ordered the agency to redo its funding plan, a process that could take months or years. Rail authority officials, however, say the revamp shouldn't take that long.
The federal board's vice chairman Ann Begeman on Wednesday called for an analysis of the project's "financial fitness."
"Today's decision acknowledges the growing controversy regarding