Californians For High Speed Rail Alarmed by Legislative Analyst’s Office Report

Recommendations will Endanger California High-Speed Rail Project

San Francisco, May 10th, 2011 – Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR) is alarmed by recommendations contained in the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) report, High-Speed Rail is at a Critical Juncture, released today. CA4HSR believes these recommendations, if implemented, will endanger the entire California High-Speed Rail (HSR) project.

LAO’s recommendations call for the following:

  • Defunding of the project at a time when construction is due to begin.
  • Re-examining where to begin construction, even though the Federal government has clearly indicated that construction must begin in the Central Valley.
  • Elimination of the California High-Speed Rail Authority by absorbing the agency into Caltrans.

“Rather than trying to help the project, the LAO recommendations would jeopardize almost $4 billion in Federal funding,” said Daniel Krause, Executive Director of CA4HSR. “Asking the Federal government to change where construction begins at this late juncture, when U.S. Department of Transportation has clearly stated their intent that funds go to the Central Valley, is just not realistic. Most major transportation projects, including the Interstate system and I-5 here in California, started construction in less challenging areas like the Central Valley.”

CA4HSR feels that the LAO recommendations are based on faulty analysis and could undermine the LAO’s long-held reputation for objectivity. Their analysis fails in the following ways:

  • Does not adequately acknowledge the risk of losing Federal funding if the report’s recommendations are implemented. Loss of these funds will essentially kill the HSR project, necessitating massive freeway and airport expansions in the future, and suppressing needed job creation.
  • Does not address the tax revenues from the 160,000 jobs the project would create, jobs and revenues that the LAO believes should be put at risk by advocating for a delay of project implementation.
  • Does not examine the cost of delay to the residents and businesses of California by continued dependence on ever-more expensive gas and worsening highway and air congestion.
  • Does not address the costs of pollution and carbon emissions that would result from long delays to the project that the recommendations would cause.
  • Irresponsibly claims that the entire project could cost $67 billion. This is a figure extrapolated from outdated numbers and is not based on any sound analysis of project features, materials and construction costs, or land values for the entire HSR system. Further, their claim does not take into consideration the Authority’s recent approach of “value engineering,” including last week’s decision to reject a costly viaduct through Fresno.
  • Gives the appearance of dictating state policy rather than providing objective advice and reliable numbers to the legislature.

Brian Stanke, Chairman of CA4HSR added, “We have serious questions about the LAO’s judgment on this matter. The real risk to the economy is to slow down the high-speed project and risk almost $4 billion in Federal funding. We are appalled that the LAO would recommend any actions that would threaten a project that will provide thousands of jobs at a time when jobs are desperately needed in California.”

 

About Californians For High Speed Rail

Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR) is a grassroots, statewide coalition of high speed rail supporters advocating for the high speed rail project approved by California voters in November 2008. Founded in 2005, we exist to educate, inform, and organize Californians about ways they can help make high speed rail a reality in the Golden State. Additionally, CA4HSR also encourages sustainable development of the high speed rail (HSR) system, promotes the building of HSR stations in city centers, transit-oriented developments, as well as developing/improving feeder transit systems. Visit us at: www.ca4hsr.org