News

Rail advocates, critics to face off in Palo Alto

Assemblyman Rich Gordon to host Tuesday meeting on new business plan for high-speed-rail line

Top officials from the California High-Speed Rail Authority will join some of the rail project's toughest critics in Palo Alto Tuesday afternoon for a public discussion of the controversial, voter-approved rail line.

The public hearing, chaired by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, will focus on the rail authority's newly released business plan, which estimates the cost of the system at $98.6 billion. Gordon chairs a state Assembly budget subcommittee that oversees resources and transportation agencies.

The meeting, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall, will feature a panel that includes Roloef van Ark, the chief executive officer of the rail authority, and two recently appointed members of the rail authority's board of directors, Jim Hartnett and Michael Rossi. They will be joined by various supporters of the rail project, including Daniel Krause, executive director of the high-speed-rail advocacy group Californians for High Speed Rail; and Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council. Cesar Diaz, legislative director of the State Buildings and Construction Trades, will also join the panel.

The panel will also include leading critics of the high-speed rail's ridership models and revenue projections. Elizabeth Alexis, co-founder of the Palo Alto-based watchdog group Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design, and Samer Madanat, director of the UC Berkeley Institute for Transportation Studies -- both of whom have pointed out flaws in the rail authority's ridership methodology -- will take part in the discussion. William Gridley, whose group Community Coalition on High Speed Rail has reviewed and criticized the rail authority's business model, will also be on the panel, as will Farra Bracht, an analyst at the Legislative Analyst's Office.

William Kempton, chair of the rail authority's peer-review group, will also be on the panel.

The meeting will take place from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave. It will be broadcast by the Midpeninsula Community Media Center on Channel 26 and streamed online here.

Comments

Posted by stan, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 14, 2011 at 8:20 pm

$99 billion divided by about 37 million residents equals about $2676 of wealth extracted from every person in the state. Multiply that by at least 2 or 3 to account for interest that must be paid to service this debt, and you end up with a realistic estimate of just how much the CA High Speed Rail project will cost every citizen in this state, around $8000. That of course assumes that the cost of the project caps at $99B. Considering that the CA HSR generated that $98B estimate, the odds are high that that figure is grossly underestimated.

That money will either come from higher taxes, or from reduced services. Do you like your neighborhood schools, depend on services provided by the state, enjoy state parks for recreation, think decently supported public services (including emergency services) are an important part of your quality of life in California? With CA HSR, you have a choice; pay for a train to nowhere via significant lost state services, about $7B to $10B each year for the next 30 years, or pay more in taxes for decades to come.

With no money to build it, the odds of the cost spiraling out of sight high, no riders to pay for it, NO private investors on the horizon, and a 'business plan' that is really nothing more than a marketing brochure to manage it, and yet it persists. If this isn't a greasy pork project, I don't know what is. Mr. Gordon, do the right thing; terminate the funding for the CA HSR Authority, and disband the CA HSR Authority before they have the opportunity to squander another billion on their fantasy train to nowhere.


Posted by Big Al, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Stan for governor!
(if you have the time old sport)

By the way, is this a 10 round or 12 round fight?
Winner takes all?


Posted by ODB, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Let's do a little math.

At the initial estimate of $33 billion, a 2x cost overrun would come out to $66 billion.

Now the cost estimate has tripled to $99 billion. A 2x cost overrun would put it at $198 billion. That's SIX TIMES the original estimate sold to voters in 2008.


Posted by Martin, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

With the latest peninsula EIR legal victory, the acceptance of the "blended approach" in the HSR business plan, the growing central valley opposition to HSR, and the Oct 2012 financial deadline for $3B in federal funds, I am hoping that the SF - SJ 4-track option is officially thrown out, a new EIR w/ the blended approach is quickly produced, and that electrification of Caltrain and the LA local commuter rails can become the "initial HSR segments", starting Sept 2012. May seem crazy looking back over the last couple years, but it could end up as a solution to truly benefit our communities and the state.

Martin


Posted by stan hutchings, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

I just called Assemblymember Gordon's Los Altos office at 650-691-2121. I requested that he stop wasting CA taxpayer's money and put an immediate end to the HSR project.
I encourage everyone to call his office and register their vote.
By the way, I'd like to see the autonomous "smart" car and smart highways developed instead of the very limited HSR. Our cars and roads go almost everywhere in California, but the HSR has a fatally limited destinations.


Posted by Greg, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I wish HSR were not referred to as "voter approved." That bill was passed under completely different assumptions. There is no way the voters would approve of it now.


Posted by Babies, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Stan..the rest of us here in the state are sick of arrogant things ...teabaggers /Nimbys/golddiggers..We are going to build it..I suggest you move to Ohio if you what quite slurb living..the rest of us that will be alive in 50 years do what people that plan ahead for society instead of the next stock dividend..


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Veggie Grill coming soon to Mountain View's San Antonio Center
By Elena Kadvany | 25 comments | 3,671 views

Finding mentors in would-be bosses
By Jessica T | 0 comments | 2,094 views

The Dude Abides
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,525 views

A memorable Paly prom
By Sally Torbey | 7 comments | 1,231 views

Passover Joke
By Paul Losch | 6 comments | 443 views