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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

California Senate committee calls for more accountability, information from high-speed rail authority


California Senate Transportation & Housing Committee Chairman Alan Lowenthal recently unveiled a report identifying the potential risks and benefits of California’s proposed high-speed rail system. The report is based on testimony given during oversight hearings held by the committee in December and January.

The committee is calling on the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) to demonstrate greater financial transparency and accountability. In addition, the report urges CHSRA to present an updated business plan prior to the November election, when voters will determine whether to approve a $10 billion bond measure to help finance the project.

The $33 billion project calls for building a high-speed rail line between Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Francisco. An additional $7 billion would be needed to extend service to San Diego and Sacramento. Inflating construction costs have eroded the purchasing power of the proposed bond program, Lowenthal said in a prepared statement.

“In the face of a massive state budget shortfall this year, it is essential that the authority provide detailed assurances that California taxpayers will not be stuck with a massive bill n future years if voters approve the bond measure on the November ballot,” he said.

The report also recommends that CHSRA create a risk management process, be integrated into the state government and construct the line’s regional segments before the long-distance link. In addition, the committee should create a peer review mechanism to oversee the authority, the report states.