California's High Speed Rail Struggles Through Recession

The economic recession is hurting the California High Speed Rail Authority, the lead agency developing the high speed rail network for which the state's voters approved $10 billion in bonds in 2008. With no buyers, the bond money is unavailable.
January 11, 2009, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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"The California High Speed Rail Authority's budget for the current fiscal year, which ends in June, included $29 million from the sales of high-speed rail bonds authorized by voters in November. But because of the state budget crisis, the credit crisis and the poor market for bonds, the state treasurer has not sold any of the rail bonds."

"That's left the rail authority without cash at a time when Californians are eager to see the 800-mile fast train system built. At an authority meeting Thursday, officials said they had halted payments on engineering and design contracts in progress and are holding off on awarding new contracts."

"So far, consultants under contract with the authority are continuing to work despite the outstanding bills. On Jan. 16, the authority will appeal to the state's Pooled Money Investment Board - the state controller, the treasurer and the head of the finance department - for a $29 million loan so it can complete the work it plans to finish this year."

"But in case that doesn't happen, the authority directed its staff to come up with a list of contracts that can be put on hold without significantly slowing progress on the project."

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Published on Friday, January 9, 2009 in San Francisco Chronicle
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