Reading the article, below, one can never tell if this is an editorial position or willful ignorance. Many of the papers carry the message that the California Rail Authority, in concurrence with the Governor, have reduced the $100 billion cost of high-speed rail by $30 billion dollars.
And, therefore, we should all love this project again, since the mind-blowing costs have been reduced so much. It's like those deals on TV where, for the next five callers, the costs have been cut to nothing but shipping and handling. If you see what I mean.
Forgive my occasional bluntness, but that's BS. Or, you can call it an extreme form of public relations marketing.
There is no cost reduction. There is a reduction of intentions. That is, they will build less and that costs less. Actually, it's a bigger scam than that. They SAY that they are going to build less and at lower cost, by deploying the "blended system."
What a brilliant magician's act that is. It makes it appear that high-speed rail can run on the existing rail corridors in both of the state's population centers, and therefore won't cost anything to build in those metropolitan regions. With the "blended system," lo and behold, abracadabra, the "bookends" will be virtually free.
That is sheer, out and out fraud. What is really going on is an accommodation to the availability of a limited amount of funding, and diverting some of that funding to the two populations centers, where most of the voters live, and bolstering their commuter rail service.
CHSRA Board Member Mike Rossi says:
“We now stand poised to have an operational high-speed passenger rail system within ten years.” “By working with community leaders throughout the state we will begin construction soon on a smarter, more cost-effective transportation option for all Californians that reflects the direction mandated by voters in 2008 with the passage of Proposition 1A.”
Sorry, Michael, it will take a lot longer than ten years, since this now will not be a high-speed rail system, except in name. Community leaders are in it because they are getting a piece of the action. It won't be "smarter" whatever that means, it won't be cost-effective since that has never, ever been determined, and it will violate the language of Proposition 1A.
Please be advised that if and when more funding appears on the political horizon, all those back-burner plans for the "bookends" will quickly reappear. If you look carefully, you will note that those prior plans have not been put away, they have been merely and temporarily suspended. And in the meantime, high-speed rail will have established a foot-hold with it's nominal presence on their intended rail route.
So, post this on your refrigerator:
When it comes to high-speed rail, the most cynical interpretation of any political situation invariably turns out to be the most accurate.
From the Los Angeles Business from bizjournals
New business plan sets cost of high-speed rail at $68.4B
Los Angeles Business from bizjournals by Melanie Turner, Staff Writer
Date: Friday, April 13, 2012, 7:22am PDT
Staff Writer - Sacramento Business Journal
The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board has adopted a revised business plan that will provide high-speed rail service within a decade at a cost of $68.4 billion, $30 billion less than the authority’s previous estimate but billions more than what was sold to voters in 2008.
In 2008, when voters approved the Proposition 1A, allowing the issuance of $9.95 billion of general obligation bonds to partially fund an 800-mile high-speed train, the estimate for the total cost of the project was $40 billion.
The state Legislature is expected to review the plan in coming months and decide whether to authorize the bond sale that would get the project started. Under the revised plan, construction would begin this year on a 300-mile initial operating section, which would lead to electrified rail between Merced and the San Fernando Valley within 10 years.
Much of the larger project has yet to be funded.
The project would connect the state’s major metropolitan areas and use existing rail infrastructure in Northern and Southern California.
“I am pleased to announce today that the High-Speed Rail Authority has taken a huge step forward toward making a coordinated statewide transportation network a viable reality,” Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard said in a news release.
“We now stand poised to have an operational high-speed passenger rail system within ten years,” board member Mike Rossi added in the release. “By working with community leaders throughout the state we will begin construction soon on a smarter, more cost-effective transportation option for all Californians that reflects the direction mandated by voters in 2008 with the passage of Proposition 1A.”
The board also unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with Southern California transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations that outlines a shared commitment to advance the project while providing funding for local projects in Southern California that will improve rail service immediately.
The agreement is designed to set the stage for construction to begin on infrastructure projects needed in Southern California as early as next year.
In addition, the board unanimously approved an memorandum of understanding with Northern California transportation agencies to electrify the Caltrain commuter train between San Jose and San Francisco. The MOU calls for local and regional entities to provide funding for just over half the $1.5 billion agreement. The Authority would provide $706 billion from Proposition 1A bond monies.
The business plan adopted Thursday was shaped by public feedback drawn from nearly 300 statewide meetings with landowners, elected officials and the public, as well as 250 public comments received over a two and a half month comment period, according to the authority.
Melanie Turner covers energy, environment, clean technology, agriculture, transportation, media and marketing for the Sacramento Business Journal.