A Precipitous Price Drop for California's High-Speed Rail

Knowing that a $100 billion project stood a poor chance of passing muster in a budget-conscious state legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown shaved off $30 billion by using a "blended rail" strategy in the Bay Area and South Coast, i.e. sharing tracks.

Dan Smith and David Siders indicate what's in store for Monday's (April 2) meeting of the CA High-Speed Rail Authority in Fresno where the revised business plan will be released at the Southern Pacific Depot. The board meets on April 5 to "review and approve" the plan.

"The lower estimate is tied to a series of changes to the project, primarily by relying on existing rail lines in and around Los Angeles and the Bay Area." These changes "were suggested by rail officials weeks ago, including the "blended approach," in which existing tracks in urban areas would be upgraded and eventually used by high-speed rail." The cost to HSRA would be $1.5 billion, far less than had the authority built separate tracks.

"The plan now will rely on a high-speed line down the spine of the state – from Merced to the San Fernando Valley – with tie-ins to improved tracks in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to ask the Legislature to appropriate $2.3 billion (of the $10 billion) in rail bond funds (approved by voters in 2008) within weeks. This week, he told reporters he spent "several hours" on the project changes."

"We are striving mightily to get a plan that can pass muster and work, and get the train built," Brown said.

Thanks to David McCoard

Full Story: Gov. Jerry Brown to change high-speed rail plan, lower cost by $30 billion

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Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

CHSRA meeting date correction & legislature questions $68 B

Note "The rail board is likely to approve the revisions on April 12." (Meeting date was changed from April 5 as stated above)

See California lawmakers skeptical of lowered price tag for high-speed rail (Monday, April 2): "State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), chairman of the budget subcommittee considering high-speed rail, said the authority "seems to have been listening and making an effort to be responsive."

But the Legislature, he said, is unlikely to appropriate funding as quickly as Gov Brown hopes.

"I think we're going to have to look past the June 15 budget adoption date," he said.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said legislative approval of the plan on Brown's time frame would require a "heroic effort."

"It's the biggest capital project in the history of the state, and it should be done properly," he said. "Given that the numbers have bounced around so much, it's a lot to ask."

SacBee transportation reporter also interviewed "Adriana Gianturco, California's transportation director when Brown was governor before." She has some interesting insights....Most every transportation advocate I've spoken to gives her high, or the highest, compliments....

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