Challenges remain for Calif. high-speed rail plan

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(AP) – California lawmakers may have given their OK to what would be the nation’s first high-speed rail line, but the project is still a long way from leaving the station.

Among the challenges that project supporters must overcome are environmental concerns, clashes with local leaders over land use, a $68 billion overall price tag with no funding guarantees and an increasingly disenchanted public.

Supporters applauded Friday when lawmakers narrowly approved billions of dollars in funding for the initial segment of the line in the agricultural Central Valley. The move enables the state to tap $3.2 billion in federal bond money.

Critics already are redoubling their efforts to defeat the project that could eventually link Northern and Southern California by trains traveling up to 220 mph.

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