The California High-Speed Rail Authority on Thursday gave formal approval to building the first section of the $43 billion rail system between two small Central Valley communities.

Rail Authority Chairman Curt Pringle, who also is the mayor of Anaheim until next week, didn’t attend the meeting because of a state Attorney General’s Office opinion that his government offices conflict with each other. Pringle is termed out as mayor on Dec. 7 and is expected to attend the next Rail Authority meeting.

In Pringle’s absence, the Rail Authority approved its previously announced plans to build the first 65-mile leg between Madera, north of Fresno, and Corcoran, north of Bakersfield. Eventually, the first phase of the project is scheduled to run from Anaheim to San Francisco. Later construction will add connections to San Diego and Sacramento.

The financial viability of the Anaheim to Los Angeles section was called into question in a series of emails between Pringle and former high-speed rail chief executive Mehdi Morshed.

Morshed noted that Anaheim only was included in the first phase because the L.A.-to-Anaheim costs were projected to be less than $2 billion. However, he said, problems with Anaheim’s planned transportation hub, called ARTIC, were driving up the potential costs and potentially raising obstacles to the city’s early inclusion in the train system.

Construction is scheduled to begin on the Central Valley portion in 2012.

— TRACY WOOD

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

BREAKING TEXT ALERTS

Subscribe today to receive Voice of OC’s breaking news text messages (free beyond your standard messaging rates).

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.