Make-Or-Break Moment For CA HSR

Nov. 1 is a decisive date for the CA HSR Authority. The long-awaited and once delayed business plan will provide the basis for the legislature to continue funding the $45 billion project or put a halt to it, thus returning massive federal grants.

Key elements of the business plan will be ridership as welll as costs. While many legislators support improving regional rail, they question the initial expenditures on the Bakersfield-Fresno segment rather than the more populated northern and southern CA routes that would result in existing commuter rail benefits.

"California's top leaders weighing the fate of the $45 billion high-speed train line will finally get the crucial details they need Tuesday to decide once and for all: Is it time to kill the project or empty the bank account to start building the sleek railroad with no guarantees there will be enough money to run a single bullet train?

Quitting now would force the state to return a massive federal grant if they scrap the rail line. But launching the project in the sparsely populated Central Valley, as is now planned, could mean spending an astonishing $9 billion in taxpayer funds to build only enough track to serve as a brief shortcut for a few thousand Amtrak riders."

From Sacramento Bee: California high-speed rail will try to turn corner with new business plan: "Sen. Alan Lowenthal, the Long Beach Democrat who chairs the Senate select committee on high-speed rail, said the authority has provided no data to support its claim that high-speed rail in the Central Valley could succeed, and he is skeptical it will in its revised plan.

Lowenthal said he "may be wrong" but that, "I think members of both parties' patience have been tried and tested. They're not just going to rubber-stamp this anymore."

"The fate of the project will be decided by the Legislature in budget hearings next year."

From SF Chronicle open forum: A plan for California's high-speed rail future : Jim Wonderman, president of the "Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored public policy organization that is leading an effort to get regional consensus on high-speed rail and fund the project in the Bay Area", writes:

"Voters committed to building a high-speed train in 2008 not because it will be easy or without challenges, but because it's part of our legacy of progress. They know it would be wrong to close the book on high-speed rail just because there are vexing issues that need to be addressed - because they see its successful completion as a powerful driver for the future of our state, our economic competitiveness, and our quality of life."

Thanks to MTC Library

Full Story: California's bullet train gamble begins: $9 billion now on the line

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