California Legislators Concerned About California High-Speed Rail Accountability

During the past four weeks, the California State Legislature has discussed the 2016 Draft Business Plan for California High-Speed Rail in several hearings. While some legislators continue to effusively praise the project, many legislators – both Republicans and Democrats – have expressed grave concerns about the abrupt change in the direction of the project and the outlook for funding sources.

On March 28, 2016, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report entitled Review of High-Speed Rail Draft 2016 Business Plan. This report stirred the Assembly Transportation Committee enough to pass Assembly Bill 2847 on a 15-0 vote on April 18.

Introduced by Assemblymember Jim Patterson (a critic of the project), AB 2847 requires the California High-Speed Rail Authority to do two things in future business plans: (1) include projected financing costs for a proposed segment or combination of segments, and (2) identify any significant changes in scope for segments identified in the previous business plan or project update report, and provide an explanation of adjustments in cost and schedule attributable to those changes.

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) continues to be active in calling for public accountability for this beleaguered project. CCHSRA Co-Chair Frank Oliviera spoke during public comment at the April 6, 2016 hearing of the Assembly Budget Committee #3 – Resources and Transportation – on California High-Speed Rail funding. (Watch the video clip of Frank Oliviera testimony.) A letter from CCHSRA was cited in a March 28, 2016 Associated Press article, State Lawmakers Poised to Scrutinize California High-Speed Rail Plan:

In a letter to the committee, Citizens for High-Speed Rail Accountability urged lawmakers to reconsider all funding for bullet trains. “There is not enough money available to put a functional financially sound high-speed train on what they are building,” the group wrote.

Nevertheless, the project moves on, with an Assembly budget hearing scheduled for April 20 to discuss the $500 million annual budget appropriation of cap-and-trade tax revenue to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

AGENDAS AND VIDEOS OF LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS

On March 28, the California State Assembly held an oversight hearing to review the Draft 2016 Business Plan for the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

http://olive.calchannel.com/videos/assembly-oversight-hearing-on-the-review-of-the-draft-2016-business-plan-for-the-california-high-speed-rail-authority/

On April 4, the California State Senate held an oversight hearing on California High-Speed Rail: An Overview of the 2016 Draft Business Plan.

Agenda: https://docs.google.com/gview?url=http%3A%2F%2Fstran.senate.ca.gov%2Fsites%2Fstran.senate.ca.gov%2Ffiles%2Fagenda_4-4-2016.pdf&embedded=true

Complete Video: http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=3525

Individual Speakers (video compiled by derailhsr)

State Senator Lois Wolk: https://youtu.be/xTK8-13P7iY

State Senator Richard Roth: https://youtu.be/rYq34TFI75Y

State Senator Jim Nielsen: https://youtu.be/ebxdrSkUWbo

State Senator Cathleen Galgiani: https://youtu.be/N89xw1YaLNk

State Senator Ted Gaines: https://youtu.be/kuB2ECon1hc

State Senator Ben Allen: https://youtu.be/Iy9BaL-ubAk

State Senator Bob Huff:  https://youtu.be/iCnPn36NSu8

Lou Thompson, California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group: https://youtu.be/7gZvvW4Jmvc

Jessica Peters, California Legislative Analyst’s Office: https://youtu.be/FXI3GHg3OLM

Dan Richard, Board Chairman, California High-Speed Rail Authority: https://youtu.be/yBnVW-0jHuw

On April 6, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #3 Resources and Transportation held a hearing on California High-Speed Rail.

Agenda: http://abgt.assembly.ca.gov/sites/abgt.assembly.ca.gov/files/Sub%203.%20Exide%20Cleanup%20and%20High%20Speed%20Rail.%20Revised%20-%20final.pdf

Complete Video: http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=3543 starting at 13:03

Individual Speakers (video compiled by derailhsr):

Jessica Peters, California Legislative Analyst’s Office: https://youtu.be/PhuWAclk0zI

Assemblyman Jim Patterson: https://youtu.be/iBziL_H0xOc

Dave DePinto, Save Angeles Forest for Everyone: https://youtu.be/3Xuz0BvdLes

Frank Oliveira, Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA): https://youtu.be/J9DeiYsyxYE

Mike Brady, Community Coalition on High Speed Rail (CC-HSR): https://youtu.be/QiHX1IGyXZY

David Schonbrunn, Train Riders Association of California (TRAC) and Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF): https://youtu.be/-jYy0F2cevM

William Grindley, high-speed rail analyst and critic: https://youtu.be/t9KEffvGG34

Cindy Bloom of Save Angeles Forest for Everyone: https://youtu.be/OyB6UUaf6bY

2 comments

  • Robert S. Allen

    Comment I sent CHSRA re 2016 Business Plan. HSR should end at San Jose Diridon, not run on Calltrain track.

    “State clearly

    ‘CHSRA will run trains only on fenced and grade-separated tracks.’

    The first words in the 2008 Prop !A title were ‘Safe’ and ‘Reliable’. High speed train operations on track with grade crossings are neither safe nor reliable. Unless the track is fenced against intrusion, trespassers (witting or not) will lead to delays.

    Two major fenced corridors (US 101 and I-280) run the length of the San Francisco peninsula with no crossings at grade. Rubber-tired vehicles – which can stop much more quickly than trains – are limited to 65 mph.

    Amtrak’s “City of New Orleans” on 79 mph track hit a steel-loaded truck at a crossing in Bourbonnais, Illinois, derailing two locomotives and 11 of 13 cars. 79 mph train speed at grade crossings is not safe, and that is the first word in the Prop 1A title.”

    Robert S. Allen
    Director, BART District 5, (1974-1988)
    Retired, SP (now UP) Western Division, Engineering/Operations

  • Robert S. Allen

    Corrected copy of comment I sent CHSRA re 2016 Business Plan. HSR should end at San Jose Diridon, not run on Caltrain track up the peninsula.

    “State clearly

    ‘CHSRA will run trains only on fenced and grade-separated tracks.’

    The first words in the 2008 Prop !A title were ‘Safe’ and ‘Reliable’. High speed train operations on track with grade crossings are neither safe nor reliable. Unless the track is fenced against intrusion, trespassers (witting or not) will lead to delays.

    Two major fenced corridors (US 101 and I-280) run the length of the San Francisco peninsula with no crossings at grade. Rubber-tired vehicles – which can stop much more quickly than trains – are limited to 65 mph.

    Amtrak’s ‘City of New Orleans’ on 79 mph track hit a steel-loaded truck at a crossing in Bourbonnais, Illinois, derailing two locomotives and 11 of 13 cars. 79 mph train speed at grade crossings is not safe, and that is the first word in the Prop 1A title.”

    Robert S. Allen
    Director, BART District 5, (1974-1988)
    Retired, SP (now UP) Western Division, Engineering/Operations

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