On Monday (4-18-2011), Senator Simitian /Rep. Eshoo and Assemblyman Gordon made a public announcement regarding High Speed Rail and the Cities on the Peninsula.
Their proposal called for a “blended” approach, whereby, only 2 tracks would be needed on the CalTrain corridor, the tracks would be upgraded and electrified, and the Authority would give up on 4 tracks, there would be no aerials, and would stop work on the EIR which is being prepared for the route from SF to San Jose and replaced.
The idea was the Authority wouldn’t need to build a second system, would save money, would save homes from be taken by eminent domain, and be able to use the same two tracks (upgraded) as Caltrain and UPRR do presently.
Well the answer from the Authority (vanArk) came back pretty swiftly and essentially says --this doesn’t work – sorry.
1. we will not abandon work on the EIR
2. we will not eliminate the 4 track option
3. we will not focus only on a 2 track option
4. we will not eliminate aerials.
The answer was predictable.
So now what?
The Simitian proposal did not even mention looking at the fundamental question of whether the project should be allowed to continue at all. Indeed Rep. Eshoo made quite clear it was her responsibility to secure as many funds for the project from the FRA as possible. Is she going to change her position now seeing that how the money will be spent, is hardly being spent wisely?
This project is a boondoggle, pure and simple. It was sold to the public as costing $32 billion, within 1 year the cost escalated to $43 billion by their estimates, and independent analysis has shown the true cost will be at least $65 billion.
The original ridership estimates were as high as 120 million passengers per year, which has now dropped to around 40 million passengers per year, and the Authority has stonewalled producing a new business plan and ridership estimates until at least next year.
So Senator Simitian, Rep Eshoo, Assemblyman Gordon, please face reality.. Time to use your positions to stop this project, which is currently spending about $1 million per day; money which is so dearly needed in so many other ways.
(videos of the announcement can be seen on YouTube at:
HSR-SIMITIAN-4-18-2011.FLV (video of the announcement by Simitian:
Simitian-Eshoo-comments-4-18-2011.flv (video of comments from Eshoo/Simitian:
Eshoo Gordon comments 4 18 2011 (video of further comments from Eshoo/Gordon)
Stone Pine lane