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New Head of California High-Speed Rail Engineers a Change of Course

With less than two months under his belt as the new chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority, Dan Richard has made significant shifts in strategy for the project and is generating optimism for a fresh start, reports Ken Orski.
March 8, 2012, 7am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Amidst new reports of rising borrowing costs for the bullet train and efforts to introduce measures onto the November ballot calling for a cancellation of the project, "[a] new strategy is beginning to emerge toward California's embattled high-speed rail venture."

"The strategy is designed to rescue the project from a possible defeat at the hands of the state legislature, gain friends and supporters among local transportation agencies, win converts among independent analysts and turn around a largely skeptical public," reports Orski.

Crafted by Richard, with the support of his fellow board members and the Governor, the centerpiece of the new near-term "bookend" strategy, "will involve 'blending' high-speed rail service with commuter rail service in existing Bay Area and Southern California rail corridors," increasing the speed of local commuter trains in preparation for the eventual arrival of high-speed rail.

A new implementation plan is just one aspect of Richard's blitz. He has sought to repair frayed relationships with the Central Valley communities along the proposed route, reestablish credibility with the legislature, and is producing a new budget estimate.

With construction scheduled to begin next year, we should find out soon whether Richard's efforts have been successful.

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Published on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 in Infrastructure USA
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