A high-level federal "working group" that meets weekly to discuss California's high-speed rail project has been created in response to growing concerns about the viability of the California project, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo announced Monday in an interview with the Weekly.
Eshoo said the working group was created by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood following a Sept. 30 meeting of six Congress members from California and several high-level federal officials. The 90-minute meeting covered growing concerns about the rail project, currently estimated to cost $43 billion, which will link San Francisco to Los Angeles in its initial phase.
Eshoo said the congressmembers expressed concerns about the viability of the California project and leadership of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, based on several authoritative studies that questioned basic cost, design, process and ridership studies of the authority.
Eshoo said her own position is that some federal funds need to be freed up and applied directly to upgrading and electrifying the Caltrain commute service, struggling to fill a $2.3 million budget gap. Federal funding is from the Federal Railroad Administration under the Department of Transportation.
She said the federal officials at the meeting include Roy Kienitz, undersecretary for policy at the Department of Transportation, who was raised in the Palo Alto/Mountain View/Sunnyvale area.
Members of Congress at the meeting included Mike Honda, Jackie Speier, George Miller, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson and Eshoo.