The board's approval isn't a surprise. Its members have been closely involved in developing the business plan that the High-Speed Rail Authority released earlier this month. But it now sets the stage for a major battle in the California legislature. If lawmakers don't approve the sale of $2.7 billion in voter-approved state bonds in the next couple of months, the start of construction could be delayed - and the entire project could fail.
So high-speed rail backers like Governor Jerry Brown need all the votes they can get. And they've got new support from Orange County after making a last-minute change to the business plan. The High-Speed Rail Authority agreed to examine ways to extend service from Los Angeles to Anaheim without requiring a transfer to another line and without having too big an impact on a price tag that's already at $68 billion.