The Not-So-High Speed Rail – (Cont’d.)

Keeping track (no pun intended) of the adventures and misadventures of California’s proposed high-speed railroad between San Diego and San Franciso, has become a sort of “Perils of Pauline” serial — old-timers may recall the movie serial of yore in which at the end of each episode the heroine was left tied to the tracks with a train coming straigh at her. You don’t remember that? No matter. We have a modern version, except this time it’s the train that’s in peril.

As you may recall, a few years ago, California voters — a gullible bunch that will vote for anything — approved a $9 billion bond issue to raise funds for a — ta, da! — high speed rail that would be built with federal aid and run between San Diego and San Francisco. One of the problems, however, turned out to be that the probable cost of that railroad is now estimated at $98 billion, and there is no way California (which for all practical purposes is broke) can lay its hands on that kind of money, even with federal aid.

Now, another bombshell comes from the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office, which points out that when the voters authorized those piddly $9 billion, it was on the explicit premise that the funds would be used for usable high-speed rail, whereas now, the would-be railroad builders want to start by building a 130-mile stretch of ordinary rail tracks for the first segment  running  from “south of Bakersfield” to “south of Merced” — which is to say, from nowhere to nowhere — with a high-speed  upgrade coming in the sweet bye and bye. To say nothing of the fact that current plans call for start of construction before the environmental impact study is completed.

But if the Legislative Analyst is right, proceeding along these lines would be a violation of the terms of those bonds. And to make sure that things are taken seriously, there is an already-pending lawsuit seeking an injuction that would stop this boondoggle on the grounds that the voter-approved plan calls for high-speed trackage, not plain old regular tracks.

So stay tuned and see how it all turns out.

For the L.A. Times story bringing us these new facts see Dan Weikel, Bulet Train’s Funding Plan Faulted, L.A. Times, November 30, 2011, at p, AA1 — click here.