Today: Rich Gordon hosts hearing on high-speed-rail

Assemblyman to lead discussion of rail authority's new business plan

California's controversial and increasingly expensive high-speed-rail system is the subject of a public hearing hosted by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the Palo Alto City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.

Jim Hartnett, a member of the California High Speed Rail Authority's board of directors, plans to join Mr. Gordon at the hearing.

Mr. Gordon said the hearing will serve as a forum for the rail authority to present its new business plan, receive public input, and identify "key areas of concern that may require further analysis."

Mr. Gordon will lead a discussion of the new business plan, which shows the project's estimated price tag rising to $98.5 billion from an initial projection of $37 billion, and its timeline for completion extended from 2020 to 2033.

The business plan also lays out the rail authority's proposal to phase the construction of the rail line and its strategy for getting the needed funding. The strategy relies largely on federal grants and tax credits, along with $11 billion in private investment.

State voters had approved a $9.95 billion bond measure for the project in 2008.

Mr. Gordon, who earlier this year championed a "blended system" under which high-speed rail and Caltrain would share tracks on the Peninsula, chairs the Assembly's Budget Subcommittee 3, which oversees Resources and Transportation agencies.

Mr. Gordon was one of many state officials who expressed concern about the rail project's swelling price tag in the new business plan.

"I find the business plan comprehensive, but there are still questions that remain unanswered -- including how the Authority plans to pay for the nearly $100 billion project," Mr. Gordon said. "Myriad concerns have been relayed by residents locally and across the State, and I look forward to their comments and the Authority's presentation at next week's hearing."

The local watchdog group Californians Advocating for Responsible Rail Design (CARRD) blasted the new plan for using the same methodology for the rail system's ridership projections as the earlier version. The group has consistently argued that the agency's methodology is flawed that that its numbers are inflated.

The Institute for Transportation Studies at UC Berkley has also criticized the rail authority's earlier ridership projections, which are largely unchanged in the new document.

Nadia Naik, a co-founder of CARRD, said her group "strongly encourages the public to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to speak directly to legislators about the California High-Speed Rail project.

Related story:

Price tag swells for high-speed-rail project (Tuesday, Nov. 1)

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Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2011 at 5:33 am

This is the other Gordon..........the real one who believes in the future of HSR...
Now, why does former, not too well liked or beloved former Supervisor Gordon decide to call a meeting about which there has been too much discused already?
He has not been in the spotlight lately and more than likely misses it and ANY photo op so that people remember who he is...was...and is never going to climb higher.
Mr. Gordon does not need this meeting and like he was accused of cooperating by big MONEY and was basically a ribbon cutter and ask the rest of the COUNTY he represented what his reputation as a front man is. I believe he cut the ribbonn for the tunnel project 4 years ago on Devil's STILL hasn't opened and ask him how many hundreds of millions have been spent.He is just a figurehead and he has a lot to answer for in his past before he conducts meetings on HSR.

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