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High Speed Rail Station (1).JPGCritics of California's high-speed rail project have put the brakes on an effort to ask voters to freeze funding for the planned bullet train.

Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, and former Republican Rep. George Radanovich announced this week that they are suspending their campaign to qualify a measure on the matter for the 2014 ballot.

Initiative backers have decided to focus for now on derailing the project through litigation but have not ruled out the possibility of pursuing another initiative, according to a statement released by the campaign Wednesday.

"We're still committed to it in the future, but I think it's just easier to let the legal matters roll by first and get those resolved, and we can reassess the depth of support and the necessity for the repeal," LaMalfa said Thursday in an interview.

The measure would block the California High-Speed Rail Authority from issuing voter-approved bonds to pay for the project and cancel any existing contracts. Proponents have until mid-August to collect the 504,760 valid voter signatures needed to secure a spot on the ballot.

The campaign has raised at least $135,000, according to campaign finance reports filed on the Secretary of State website. The cost of hiring paid petition circulators to collect signatures typically exceeds $1 million.

"It takes a lot more than that to be successful statewide,
LaMalfa said of the money raised so far, "So I want to conserve the resources we have and conserve and respect the volunteers we have out there."

State lawmakers have already authorized spending $5.8 billion, including $2.6 billion in state rail bond funds, to begin construction of the line in the Central Valley.

Editor's note: This post was updated with quotes from LaMalfa.

PHOTO CREDIT: A view of the interior of a station in the proposed high speed rail network. Rendering by Newlands and Company Inc., 2008.


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