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Uncertainty continues to reign for California’s tumultuous high-speed rail project. Yesterday, California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Chief Executive Officer Roelof van Ark announced he would resign from the agency, effective in two months. In addition, board chairman Thomas Umberg announced he would step down as chair but remain on the board. Dan Richard, an advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown and a CHSRA board member, will succeed him as chairman. The board and administration have requested that van Ark continue to provide advice on the project through the end of the year, citing the importance in the continuity of management and leadership.
“I would like to thank Mr. van Ark for his service to California and the high-speed rail project. The announcement of his resignation will resonate throughout the state,” said Umberg in a prepared statement. “His energy, passion and dedication to this critically important project are a testament to his character and his professionalism. We are extremely lucky to have his continued counsel and advice as we move to implement high-speed rail in California.” Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani, who helped author Proposition 1A, which provides bonds to help finance high-speed rail construction, called van Ark’s resignation and Umberg’s decision to step down a “key turning point” that gives Brown an opportunity to put state resources into the project to ensure its success. Last week, Brown proposed folding CHSRA into a new state transportation agency that also includes the departments of transportation and motor vehicles, among others. “Today represents a turning point for the governor to put his stamp on the project,” Galgiani said. “I am confident that Governor Brown will put his full resources behind the success of high-speed rail.”