Governor Brown's Appointees Give High Speed Rail a Reality Check
High speed rail is back on track.
After months of stumbling and bumbling, today's announcement of a realistic,
intelligent business plan for the project's future is just what the project
There's a reason for the new direction: Governor Brown's appointment to the
commission of two key figures to reshape the California High Speed Rail
The top dogs that led an overhaul of the plan are the Governor's job czar, Mike
Rossi. Rossi is a hard-nosed, ex-Marine, ex-Bank of America exec who was
brought in not to be a cheerleader for the project, but to craft a plan to see
if the project still makes sense. Complementing him is Dan Richard, former
PG&E guru with a background in rail transit.
Between the two of them, they've come up with a plan that should silence the
critics (at least the ones who aren't in knee-jerk opposition to this
necessary, job-creating project).
Screaming headlines this morning note that the cost of the project has doubled.
That's true, but it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. The new plan has
several new features that make sense, including a blended approach using
existing tracks in urban areas and utilizing the most track miles per dollar in
the Central Valley. In addition, these costs account for increases in the price
of materials, as well as 3% annual inflation.
The Obama Administration seems to be impressed. Here's a statement from U.S.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, http://fastlane.dot.gov.
It starts: "the new business plan represents a step in the right direction
and includes a new vision for how the system will upgrade and interlink with
California's existing regional rail systems.
"California's high speed rail
project is the single largest infrastructure development project in the nation
and it is only realistic to assume it will face challenges, doubts and
critics. However, the merits of the program have and will continue to
emerge as we engage in meaningful, robust and thoughtful discussion about how
this is an investment for future generations.
And so does labor -- largely because the project will create one million jobs
over its life. Here's the Cal Labor Fed's Art Pulaski, bit.ly/vywVWa.
The California Alliance for Jobs is slated to have a 1 p.m. presser to talk it
up even more. Here's a link to their page: http://www.rebuildca.org/High_Speed_Rail.html
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