SACRAMENTO, CA - The California High Speed Rail Authority expects to break ground this July for the project's first 130-mile segment in the Central Valley.
But a little more than five months out, not a single parcel of land has been acquired.
CEO Jeff Morales said that'll start happening over the next few weeks and the state will have enough, not all the acres necessary to get the project shovel-ready.
"We can't start until we have all of our environmental approvals in place and then there are several governmental checks we have to go through before we can start acquiring properties," High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales said.
The project, though, is at risk for yet another delay already having pushed ground breaking from last fall to this summer.
The concern about delays, of course, is they're expensive. Delays costs more and could leave the state without enough money to finish the first segment.
If the state doesn't meet certain timelines, the federal government could pull over $3 billion in funding and farm land values are booming in the Central Valley, averaging $28,000 an acre while the rail authority's budget forecasted $8,000 an acre.
Assem. Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, has been a big critic of the $68 billion bullet train.
"The real problem is going to be the actual process for acquiring land and unless there's some serious changes under way for how the state can take land from individuals, then I think we've already got a problem," Harkey said.
And that's what got Central Valley farmers concerned; some don't want to sell and will require the state to exercise the last resort of eminent domain.
"My dad started my farm coming out of WWII. I live on my farm," Central Valley Farmer Kole Uptown said. "My son lives on the farm. It's not only our heritage it's our future."
Morales insists a lot negotiations with farmers have taken place and with the execution of deals ready to go, a July groundbreaking is still on track.
By Nannette Miranda, ABC7