Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stopping High-Speed Rail Before It Starts

Yesterday, we sent out an article about three Republican Congressmen from California who voiced very strong objections to the California high-speed rail project.

Here is another brief article about one of them, Congressman Jeff Denham, who expressed his view that the project, without the necessary funding assurances, would never get built.

We can take his point literally.  When the rail proponents compare this project with the Instate Highway System, as Governor Brown has done recently, they neglect to mention that the highway trust funds were created by federal legislation to secure funds to keep building the highway system until it was complete.  That is to say, the funds were assured from the outset.  That, of course, is not the case with high-speed rail. No one has a clue to where the almost $200 billion necessary would come from.  The rail authority assurances are nothing but whistling in the dark.

So, here's the problem.  The state is committed to match funds from other sources with state bond funds.  So, when the FRA awards the rail authority $3 billion, the state can match it with another three billion.  And that's the six billion that will be used to start laying some tracks in the Central Valley. 

While Congressman Denham is correct that they entire rail system will not be built, he fails to mention that this will not prevent the project from starting construction in the Central Valley to lay around 100 miles of track.

Were the $3 billion from the FRA "clawed back," the state bond funds couldn't be spent and construction could not even begin. 

Congressman Denham, that is your assignment.  Get all the help you need to make this happen.  

The high-speed rail authority won't be able to run high-speed rail on these new tracks (no electricity), but from the point of view of the Governor and Democratic Legislature, that doesn't matter.  What matters is getting those dollars -- in the name of high-speed rail construction -- and spending it. Ostensibly it will create jobs, but nothing like the number now promised.

The debate over whether high-speed rail should or shouldn't be built in California is over.  There's not enough money and there will not be enough money.  

Therefore, the debate now should be about whether or not the project is terminated before construction begins and those $6 billion are not wasted on boondoggle expenditures that will line the pockets of certain special interest groups. 

It would be deeply appreciated if Congressman Denham and his colleagues in the House were able to orchestrate the termination of this project in California before construction commences, before eminent domain adverse takings ruin the lives and businesses of so many in the Central Valley, and before we stand helplessly by as our state government flushes six billion dollars down the toilet. 

Politician puts brakes on high-speed rail
Becky Yeh - OneNewsNow California correspondent - 2/12/2012 3:30:00 AM

One California congressman doesn't believe that his state's high-speed rail project will ever be built -- and is doing what he can to ensure it isn't going to be funded.

 The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently approved legislation that will fund transportation projects across the nation, but ensured that federal funds would not go towards funding California's high-speed rail program. Representative Jeff Denham (R-California) announced that he wants to make sure that the money funds highway projects -- not the state's ambitious first-ever bullet train.

The move by the House panel is another critique of the costly project by congressional Republicans who say California's high-speed rail will not generate the ridership and funds to pay for the cost it takes to build it. California voters have also signaled they want a re-vote on the project they passed. 

Denham told CBS Eyewitness News that the high-speed rail makes no sense.

"Until you have the funding source to put track on the ground and put people to work, I don't see how this thing ever takes off," he said.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority board recently appointed Governor Jerry Brown's nominee to lead that organization after the board's chairman resigned.

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