Against California High Speed Rail

Against California High Speed Rail by Mark R. Powell

20 Years of California’s High Speed Rail Authority…

…False Promises, Self-Denial, and Public Deception

Early Promises
Almost 20 years have lapsed since California Senate Continuing Resolution 6 (SCR 6)  [Note 1] gave birth to the Intercity High-Speed Rail Commission in 1993.  The Commission’s mission:

“ (Be it) Resolved that construction commence on a Los Angeles to San Francisco Bay Area High-Speed Ground Transportation Corridor by the year 2000, and that by the year 2020, high-speed ground transportation service be operating between Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay area, the Los Angeles area, the San Bernardino/Riverside area, Orange County, and San Diego.”

And how was this to be paid for?  SCR 6 contained the answer.

“(Be it)Resolved that the financing plan include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
   (1) Construction, operation, and maintenance by a private entity utilizing private funds.
   (2) Use of state general obligation bonds.
   (3) Use of revenue bonds backed by incremental increases in gasoline tax to pay principal 
        and  interest, with a schedule for sale of bonds and a schedule for each incremental
        gasoline tax increase.
   (4) Use of airport funds to the extent that the new network would eliminate the need for
        airport expansion.
   (5) Identification of potential alternative public funding

Yes, the Rhodes Scholars in our Sacramento Legislature would have used new gasoline taxes  and existing airport tax receipts to pay for a railroad that was to run on electricity.

To commence construction by the year 2000 and to have the statewide system complete by the year 2020 was certainly a tall order.  Fortunately, not much in the way of plans was produced by the Intercity High-Speed Rail Commission.   Unfortunately, the same legislator, Judge Quentin Kopp,  who penned SCR 6 in 1993 also authored Senate Bill 1420 in 1996; The High Speed Rail Act [Note 2].  This new law terminated the Intercity High-Speed Rail Commission on January 1, 1997 in favor of a new body, the High-Speed Rail Authority (the Authority), which Judge Kopp Continue reading

Rail Authority Admits Central Valley Costs Exceed Twice Previous Estimate

A Comparison of Draft EIRs to the Authority’s 2009 Report Reveals the Truth

Mark Twain once said, “There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics.” Truly, Mr. Twain was correct in recognizing that the use of statistics beats lies and even damn lies when it comes to hiding the truth.  The California High-Speed Rail Authority surely recognizes this reality and has fully embraced the statistical use of $2008 Dollars, $2010 Dollars, $YOE Dollars, and the shuffling of  electrical costs in and out of their other construction costs to hide the truth.  Their efforts seem to be paying off as the mainstream media talks of “Costs perhaps exceeding Continue reading

Patriots in Kings County Arming to Fight High Speed Rail

Threatened Lawsuit Supplants Musket Balls and Dry Powder
Kings County’s list of grievances with California’s High Speed Rail Authority is long and
arduous. At the heart of the matter is the Authority’s consistent refusal to coordinate the development of their Draft Environmental Impact Report for the segment of high-speed rail spanning from Fresno to Bakersfield with the governing agencies of Kings County as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and other laws.  Ground zero for high-speed rail is Kings County because it is here where the Authority plans to deviate from existing transportation corridors and recklessly trample through homes, businesses, and across prime Continue reading

High Speed Deception

California High Speed Rail Authority’s term, “Initial Construction Segment”, consists of well-chosen words.

Award Winning Photo by R. Bergman

HSR Destroys Homes

Members of California’s High-Speed Rail Authority are all aware that no high-speed train can possibly operate profitably on their proposed $6.5 Billion, 115 mile Initial Construction Segment slated to run from slightly north of Fresno to slightly north of Bakersfield.  In fact, even if additional funds were to suddenly materialize so that the initial 115 miles of track could be extended north to Merced and south to Bakersfield (what the Authority now refers to as the “extended Initial Construction Segment’) , they know that even this 170 miles of track with 4 stations (Merced, Fresno, Tulare-Hanford, and Bakersfield) could not possibly Continue reading

Standing in the Path of High Speed Rail…

Farmers, Homeowners, and 700 Dead Cows Each Day

Path of High Speed Rail

Path of High Speed Rail

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority appears poised to run over everything in its way along a 220 mile per hour path of destruction through Kings County in California’s Central Valley.  In May the Authority approved a staff recommendation for a track alignment in the Fresno to Bakersfield segment that deviates from the BNSF Rail Road right-of-way Continue reading

Two More Reasons to Defund California High-Speed Rail

Lynn Schenk and Curt Pringle of California’s High-Speed Rail Authority

The attached YouTube video clips are taken verbatim from the May 5, 2011 California High-Speed Rail Authority Monthly Board Meeting videotape.

 In the first clip board member Lynn Schenk responds to a topic raised by Vice-Chairman Tom Umberg  about the possibility of reprioritizing work on the statewide system and putting Phase 2 (“LOSSAN” or Los Angeles to San Diego) work ahead of Phase 1 (San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim).

Listen carefully as board members openly discuss thwarting the will of the voters, the state legislature, and members of California’s congressional delegation.  Listen to Board Member Schenk claim that ridership studies for Los Angeles to San Diego are “not necessary”.  She, in her almost omnipotent wisdom, knows “the ridership is there” and would rather redirect her hard fought for funds than spend them in the Bay Area “bailing out Caltrain”. In her most damning statement she passes judgment on critics of high-speed rail including “NYMBY’s”, fellow citizens.  The entire conversation is between persons believing they know best and believing they are accountable to no one.


Footnotes below point to the start of the two clips in the board meeting video found on the Authority’s website.

Link to California High-Speed Rail Authority May 5, 2011 Board Meeting Video

Clip 1: 1:43:28 Start of YouTube Video Clip

Clip 2: 3:09:09  Start of Diana Peck Comments
 3:11:20  Start of YouTube Video Clip

New Facebook Group Formed in Central Valley to Oppose High Speed Rail

Fueled by their frustrated attempt to provide public comment at a recent California High-Speed Rail outreach event held at Kit Carson School in rural Hanford the thwarted commenters are making their voices heard by creating a Facebook group, Californians Against High-Speed Rail.  This may be the first Facebook group organizing to oppose California’s High-Speed Rail Authority and their heavy-handed tactics.  Californians, or for that matter any American, having a story to tell about their disappointments with this project, their frustrations with the “Authority” and its jack-booted contractors, their concern over the waste of taxpayer dollars, or their alarm over the destruction of homes and land along the proposed route are encouraged to become  Facebook “Friends” with this new group.  Just click on the link below or from your own Facebook account type “Californians Against High-Speed Rail” in the search line.

California High Speed Rail: Costs Soar As Planning Goes Off Its Tracks

Put a Fork in it.  This Turkey is Done.
California’s High Speed Rail Authority strives to avoid making public the massive cost overruns its staff now envisions.  The Authority prefers press releases that hype additional funds directed to California from other states that are wisely abandoning high speed rail projects.  However, occasionally a staff member slips up and goes on the record with pieces of updated cost information. This article strives to connect Continue reading

Imagining a World With California High Speed Rail

$9 Billion for 180 Miles of High Speed Rail Connecting Merced to Bakersfield
California’s High Speed Rail Authority led by its Chairman, Curt Pringle, hopes to squander $9 Billion on high speed rail stretching from a few miles north of Merced to downtown Bakersfield. Imagine how this feat could be accomplished Continue reading

High Speed Railroading of the Public

How Legislators Skirted the Law to Gain a Narrow Victory for Proposition 1A

On November 4, 2008 Californians voted 52.5 to 47.5% in favor of the “Safe, Reliable, High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act”. In the next few paragraphs I expose how California’s elected officials voided important provisions of California and Federal Election Code and ignored key requirements of their own High-Speed Rail legislation in their successful effort the fool Californians into approving Proposition 1A.

Evading the Election Code
The “Safe, Reliable, High Speed Passenger Train Bond Act” or Proposition 1A was not initiated by the voters. Rather, it was initiated by the State Legislature with the passage of Senate Bill 3034 [Note 1], signed by the governor on August 26, 2008 just 70 days before the upcoming election. It is at this point that our elected officials begin overriding our election laws when they mandated Continue reading