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May 30, 2020


Peter Garrison

Please, HSR, go away. We don’t need you and we need the savings.


And yet the SacBee is reporting this week that:

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration plans to cut millions of dollars in spending from the state High-Speed Rail Authority even as the costly project continues to move forward in the San Joaquin Valley.
The administration wants to cut the equivalent of 88 positions for private-sector consultants working on the project, saving $29.8 million annually, according to a budget document released this week.
The department would create new state jobs for 70 public employees, offsetting some of the savings.

The changes reflect years of concerns that private-sector consultants had taken over the project with insufficient oversight.
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that high-speed rail has been a gravy train for engineering consultants,” said Ted Toppin, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government, which represents 13,000 state-employed engineers and related professionals.

In 2018, the California State Auditor released a report that found that the California High-Speed Rail Authority relied heavily on outside consultants, “for whom the state’s best interests may not be the highest priority,” according to the audit summary. The audit recommended that the authority hire and assign full-time state employees to serve as contract managers.
California has been developing the high-speed project since 2008, when voters approved a bond to begin paying for it. At the time, the route was slated to cost $40 billion. The most recent cost projection from the Authority estimates the total cost for phase 1, Los Angeles to San Francisco, to run about $80 billion.

Bruce Dickinson

HSR will finally die, however Bruce Dickinson doesn't understand why our governor can't just rip off the band-aid. We're still going to probably spend a couple billion dollars before this thing is dead and there's no reason why we can't pull the plug now and dedicate resources to far more pressing needs.

Guys, even assuming a COVID vaccine, how many people are really going to want to take public transportation going forward!?? Also, how many of the jobs will change so that people won't have to go into the office as much? As Joe mentioned, this is going to be devastating for our existing public transportation networks, SamTrans, Caltain, BART, and Muni which were already hemorrhaging losses before COVID. The public's effective taxes will be skyrocketing to pay for all these losses.

Yes it will die, but I expect our leadership take decisive action and cut HSR off ASAP, when we all know the outcome is a fait accompli!


Here are a few more tidbits of information on HSR funding from the San Joaquin Valley Sun:

Currently, the high-speed rail project receives a 25 percent share of cap and trade revenues.

In California’s quarterly cap and trade auctions, the state received $613 million in the February auction of pollution licences. May’s auction only generated $25 million.
That's a difference of $147M this quarter.


More maneuvering from the Assembly:

The majority of the California Assembly has co-sponsored legislation that directs the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) to defer awarding a contract this year for the proposed high-speed rail line between Merced and Bakersfield.

The measure directs the CHSRA to not enter into certain contracts before the Legislature has considered and approved the authority's funding request for the remaining $4.2 billion in high-speed rail bond issue funds, according to a press release issued by state lawmaker Jim Frazier, who chairs the California Assembly's Transportation Committee.

According to CHSRA's Draft Business Plan, the authority plans to sign multibillion-dollar contracts for electrified tracks and rail cars this fall, then request the remaining bond funds necessary to complete its plans next spring. The action would essentially force the Legislature to support a path forward that many in the Assembly have questioned, Frazier said.



Construction just keeps plugging along. From the CHSRA today:

KERN COUNTY, Calif. – The California High-Speed Rail Authority today announced the completion of Poso Creek Viaduct in Kern County, the first completed structure in the 22-mile segment of high-speed rail from the Tulare-Kern county line to Poplar Avenue in Kern County known as Construction Package 4. It is the fourth high-speed rail structure completed in the Central Valley since August.

The viaduct structure spans more than 240 feet long and 56 feet wide and will allow high-speed trains to cross over Poso Creek.

In August and September, three structures part of Construction Package 1 in Madera County opened to traffic, including grade separations at Avenue 10, Avenue 15, and Avenue 7.

Since the start of construction, nearly 4,500 construction workers have been dispatched to work on the high-speed rail project at 32 active construction sites between Madera and Kern counties.

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