RailPAC writes Brown, Feinstein, and Boxer: Peer Review Committee Is Right On High Speed Rail

NOTE: Identical letters were also faxed to Senators Feinstein and Boxer

11th January, 2012

Governor Jerry Brown
State Capitol Suite 1173
Sacramento CA 95814


Dear Governor Brown:

Our organization has consistently advocated the creation of a network of modern passenger trains for the State of California as part of a balanced transportation system and has specifically campaigned for High Speed Rail since 1980. We originally welcomed the High Speed Rail project as a step change in the otherwise painfully slow development of the State rail corridors and regional networks. We still believe that there is a place for a well designed and engineered High Speed Rail System but we are concerned that the California High Speed Rail Authority (“CHSRA”) is taking a serious misstep with their priorities.

The CHSRA has spent over $800 million of taxpayer funds without an acre of land being purchased or a yard of track laid. The engineering consultants are paid to design sections of route, and paid again to redesign them when they are found to be unacceptable to the local community or are simply too expensive. This must stop.

It is increasingly clear that CHSRA is unable to deliver the system that the voters approved in 2008 with Proposition 1A. The authority’s plan, and the only thing they have the funds to deliver, is a stretch of about 130 miles of track in the San Joaquin Valley, with no power or signaling system with which to run trains, and no trains to run on it. Additional money would have to be found to link this orphan track with existing lower speed rail routes. The Authority’s best case is for a connection between the Bay Area and Southern California in 2033. In our opinion this is not how Californians would like to see their money spent.

We believe that the Peer Review Committee has reached the only logical and acceptable conclusion. Neither the Federal Government nor the state, on behalf of taxpayers, should spend the very limited funds available on an incomplete route segment in the San Joaquin Valley.

That the High Speed Rail Project has to be built in segments is incontrovertible. We believe that each of these segments should be like building blocks, each adding to the mobility options currently available and giving value for money for this large public
investment. Using the regional rail systems at each end of the route as anchors, the logical choice is to build outward from each end so that as each segment is opened it can immediately add to the matrix of destinations available. By this measure the first segment to be built should connect Los Angeles with Bakersfield. This can then offer passenger rail service between northern and southern California via the San Joaquin Valley cities which can be incrementally improved to higher speeds as funds become available.

It is never too late to review a project and modify it so that it gives value for money for Californians and better mobility options for passengers. The CHSRA is proceeding down the wrong path and we support the attempt of the Peer Review Committee to bring some common sense to bear.

Yours sincerely,

Paul J Dyson

RailPAC is an all volunteer non-profit advocacy group, and a California Corporation.

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