Hating high-speed rail

Columnist Dan Walters uses his harshest language yet on the high-speed rail project:

“Faced with a Sacramento judge’s insistence that the restrictive language of a 2008 ballot measure authorizing the project meant what it said, Brown has become increasingly desperate to begin constructing a small portion …”

“The simple fact is that there’s no way the project as presently constituted can meet the restrictions of the voter-approved bonds – limits that were designed to protect taxpayers’ interests. …”

“It’s become Brown’s ego trip, rather than something that Californians want and need, and is more likely to make him a laughingstock in history books than to become a noteworthy legacy.”
Objectively, I can’t say whether Brown is driven by the pharoahistic desire for immortality as some observers claim or by the determination to overcome all obstacles and achieve his vision in the manner of great leaders. Or both. It doesn’t matter. What is clear is that high-speed rail is on the ropes.
In the main this is because the ballot language — HSR had to travel X fast, at X cost, with X funding formula – was unrealistic. Part of it has been mismanagement by the High-Speed Rail Authority. Part if it is the NIMBYism and big-government aversion of south-Valley conservatives.
And part of it was the sense by some Californians that any system that laid its first segment in the San Joquin Valley was inherently wasting tax dollars; an element of regional prejudice of which the wise Mr. Walters is not entirely free.
I hate to see high-speed rail go. A 21st-century transportation system would be a great economic boon to the Valley. Also it will leave only the Delta tunnels as the major public works project on Brown’s agenda. For now there are two toys in the room for him to play with. How much more reluctant he will be to part with the tunnels if the other is taken away.  

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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