California High Speed Rail 'Plan B' Pushed In State Senate

The alternative plan directs a sizable percentage of the initial $6 billion allocation to the Bay and LA regions to upgrade existing commuter lines at the expense of greater investment in the Central Valley. Funding plan may be determined by July 6.

Lance Williams describes the "proposal devised by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, chairman of the Transportation and Housing Committee" to invest more heavily than the High Speed Rail Authority would prefer in the two 'bookends' of the high-speed-rail project.

The project was already greatly downsized to do just that - but with lesser amounts of funding for the two metropolitan rail systems by adopting a 'blended approach' that would electrify Caltrain in the Bay Area and improve the Metrolink corridor in the LA area.

"According to rail advocates who have been briefed on the idea, Plan B's top priorities include:

  • $2 billion tunnel through downtown San Francisco to bring commuter rail service – and, eventually the bullet train – into the city's new Transbay Transit Center from the Caltrain station more than a mile away.
  • 1.5 billion in Los Angeles-area rail improvements, including a redesign of Los Angeles Union Station's rail access and construction of rail overpasses. Together, the projects would speed rail service for hundreds of Amtrak and Metrolink trains each day and end chronic traffic bottlenecks.
  • $1.5 billion Central Valley bullet train line between Fresno and Madera – but with no immediate connections to Merced or Bakersfield."
  • Reaction from HSRA: "There are no legal, practical or contractual ways to move the money out of the Central Valley," Chairman Dan Richard wrote. "The Authority's revised plan (see Richard's "progress report" video) already makes major investments to rail across the state."

    Thanks to California League of Conservation Voters

    Full Story: Some senators want dramatic shift in bullet train plan

    Comments

    Comments

    Irvin Dawid's picture
    Correspondent

    Yes, dear - the CA leg. will vote this week on High Speed Rail

    And that means tomorrow or Friday!

    Brian Joseph of The O.C. Register reports that "Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg said Tuesday (July 3) afternoon that there would definitely be a high-speed rail vote on either Thursday or Friday of this week. Speaking with reporters in his Capitol office, Steinberg once again acknowledged that the vote would be tight in the Senate, with several Democrats publicly voicing their opposition to the plan along with Republicans, who are universally opposed..."

    Stay tuned - this will be a "landmark vote" as it determines whether $6 billion will be invested in California rail infrastructure.
    Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

    Irvin Dawid's picture
    Correspondent

    Early word is CA Leg' says YES to HSR!!!!!

    Mercury News' Mike Rosenberg, who has been reporting on California's troubled high speed rail project since the onset, updates his July 4 article, "With new money pledged for Caltrain, state's bullet train likely to pass Friday, officials say.

    Excerpts and comments below - but here's some fresh news: The allocation jumped from $6 billion ($2.7 B state, $3.3 B Fed) to $8 B!

    "Brown's $8 billion plan also includes several new oversight provisions that would allow lawmakers to pull the plug on funding during construction if they are not satisfied. ....

    About $4.7 billion will be paid by voter-approved bond funds, along with the $3.3 billion from the federal government. It is still unclear where the remaining funding for the entire $69 billion project will come from."

    That's quite a jump in state bond allocations - though the HSR bonds total almost $10B, the debate was whether $2.7 billion was too much to authorize when the state is so broke....

    This does NOT look like Plan B to me! In fact, the author of Plan B is quoted.

    "This isn't free money," said state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who is still against the plan despite his support for the Caltrain project because "I can't vote to spend $6 billion" in the Central Valley."

    "The Legislature is poised to vote on the proposal Friday (July 6) morning after hearings Thursday. Lawmakers are under intense pressure from the Obama and Brown administrations, and Democratic leaders from state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to approve the plan."

    "The biggest remaining issue is where to start building."

    Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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