The High Speed Rail Boondoggle – A New Player In the Game?

The California State Legislative Analyst’s Office has released a report recommending that the California High-Speed Rail Authority be stripped of its powers, and the high-speed rail construction project be turned over to the California Department of Transportation (known around here as CalTrans), being as the latter has much experience building large-scale transportation projects whereas the former cannot boast of any such experience and is operating with a skeleton staff.

The Legislative Analyst also recommends that the current legislative funding for the high-speed train project be cut from $185 million to $7 million in the 2011-2012 state budget (these figures do not include the much larger federal funding), and that the initial leg be built where people live, not in the boondocks in the Central Valley. For the full text of the Times article, including the anguished screams of protest emanating from the high-speed rail folks see Dan Weikel, Changes Urged for Rail Project, L.A. Times, May 11, 2011, at p. AA1. A good read, that. Go to http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0511-high-speed-rail-20110511,0,710485.story

Follow up. Today’s Los Angeles Times editorial, puts the blast good and proper on the way the high-speed rail boondoggle has been handled thus far. We quote:

“The train’s biggest problems can be laid at the feet of the High Speed Rail Authority, which is overseeing its construction. Inexperienced board members appointed by the governor and Legislature on the basis of political patronage rather than expertise have made a host of poor decisions. Not the least boneheaded of these is the board’s plan to take a circuitous route from Los Angeles to Bakersfield by veering through Palmdale and Lancaster. Compared with the more direct route along Interstate 5 through the Grapevine, this would add 30 miles to the trip plus $1 billion in construction costs, and make it all but impossible for the train to meet its promised travel time of 2 hours and 40 minutes from L.A. to San Francisco. The legislative analyst calls for slashing the authority’s
proposed budget for next year by $185 million and eventually eliminating it,
transferring the bullet train’s oversight to another agency. We heartily agree.”

California’s High-Speed Train Wreck, L. A. Times, May 16, 2011. For the full text go to http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-bullettrain-20110516,0,5409734.story

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