No ‘time out’ for city in rail authority’s cross-hairs

Dec. 21, 2012

By Chris Reed

train_wreck_num_2The nervousness is growing in Bakersfield as the California High-Speed Rail Authority moves toward locking into a route that will disrupt the lives of thousands of people — and maybe for no reason.

The rail line into and through Bakersfield won’t be built in the first bullet-train segment that is supposed to begin construction in 2013. And there is vast reason to think the second segment will never be built because the state government is cash-strapped and the federal government is unlikely to borrow billions and billions for high-speed rail for one and only one state.

So what happens? Something reasonable.  As Bakersfield Californian columnist Lois Henry reports, there is growing interest in a “time out” to resolve unsettled issues and unanswered questions:

“[It] would give the authority, city and other groups time to come up with a more amenable alignment and avoid lawsuits. Court action is almost certain if the pending EIR is certified with its current proposed route cutting through downtown Bakersfield on an 80-foot elevated track in some places.

“Most importantly, a time-out for property owners would mean we wouldn’t have a certified EIR looming over our heads making it impossible to sell our homes or businesses for any decent money and with no prospect of the state buying us out either.

“‘Why select a route and set it in stone when you don’t know when, or even if, you’ll have the money to go all the way into Bakersfield?’ asked Ahron Hakimi, director of the Kern Council of Governments, which oversees transportation projects in Kern.”

But Henry’s conclusion is that a time out isn’t likely for the worst possible reason imaginable. She notes that authority officials refuse to engage on the issue, and then cites a very sharp observation by Jeff Taylor of the Save Bakersfield Committee:

“‘But what would happen if they said this was a reasonable request?’ he wondered. ‘They’d basically be admitting to the fact that it was poorly planned. And what would that say about the rest of their plan, which also sucks?'”

We’ve heard of “too big to fail.” We’ve heard of bureaucratic inertia keeping stupid projects chugging toward completion. But with the California bullet train, we are witnessing a new kind of government fiasco: Fanatics who have to pretend their plan is perfect, because if they acknowledge any of the big flaws — such as the absurdity of throwing a city into upheaval for a rail line that may never come to pass — than all of a sudden the whole thing looks ridiculous.

$69 billion project. About $10 billion in hand. No prospects for the rest.

What the hell, let’s paralyze Bakersfield anyways.


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  1. Donkey
    Donkey 21 December, 2012, 08:17

    As with all RAGWUS groups the bureaurats have to be seen as pro-active, with a view beyond the thinking ability of us little folk.

    First off, the actual cost of the train tracks themselves is ridiculous, as is the cost of planning, but it all follows the course of any RAGWUS run bureaucracy, in that there is no accountabilty, nothing is done in an efficient or timely manner, and money is of no issue. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  2. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 21 December, 2012, 10:54

    We need to built this Eighth Wonder of the World. When we build this high plains train to nowhere, people the world over will indeed wonder — “What were they THINKING?”

    Indeed, the Bakersfield-Modesto HSR project might be some marginal tourist value, similar to the pyramids of Egypt. But the pyramids have an edge, as they require no OPERATING subsidy. Unlike our HSR.

    Still, this stranded farmland train line WILL stand for some time as a monument to bullheaded political stupidity — assuming we even finish even just this leg (which I SERIOUSLY doubt).

    Reply this comment
  3. Dave Kendall
    Dave Kendall 21 December, 2012, 12:26

    The governor-( union puppet) , the unions , and the “gimmee-gimmee” idiot voters are to blame. California is leading the country down.

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 22 December, 2012, 09:15

    The slow speed Fail will turn out just like the gov’s new “payroll computer system”, 400% OVER budget and on the verge of collapse.

    Reply this comment
  5. David in Irvine
    David in Irvine 22 December, 2012, 10:22

    Mr. Rider’s comparison of HSR to the pyramids is apt. The pyramids were enormous monuments to the vanity and privilege of the pharoahs, built at the expense of individuals and society. Our modern pharoahs in Sactown will not be buried in these monuments, but the vanity and privilege of these rulers has not changed in 3000 years.

    Reply this comment
  6. I need money
    I need money 22 December, 2012, 12:29

    In the meantime, how do I get a contract to do some consulting work for the California High-Speed Rail Authority? I see it has already spent $600 million. Is there someone I need to know? Do I need to have a genetic test to see if I am a disadvantaged person? Would it help if I rented some office space in Pixley?

    Reply this comment
  7. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 23 December, 2012, 21:24

    We will all be gone when the last page is written to this story. Perhaps the history books will say that the HSR project revived CA’s economy, and maybe there will be a JB statue in every HSR station. (I can visualize you all wretching now–I hope its not too bad–have a nice holiday week, if you are capable of enjoying yourselves, even a teensy bit.)

    Reply this comment
  8. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 24 December, 2012, 12:15

    In the meantime, how do I get a contract to do some consulting work for the California High-Speed Rail Authority? I see it has already spent $600 million.
    Are you RELATED to anyone in power in the gov or the rail giveaway????

    If not then you need to be a minority, if not then you’re SOL.

    Reply this comment
  9. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 24 December, 2012, 12:16

    SeeSaw says:
    Perhaps the history books will say that the HSR project revived CA’s economy, and maybe there will be a JB statue in every HSR station
    seesaw, yoiuare one of funniest stand ups I have ever seen!!!…..or the most delusional, one of the two!

    Reply this comment
  10. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 24 December, 2012, 15:06

    Only those coming in the future will ever know for sure, Rex. Don’t know if you were asking me or not, but I have not and have never had a relative with power in the government or rail, either one. Imagine that! I don’t care what I am–if 600 million has been spent, somebody had some money to spend, didn’t they! The economy cannot subsist without some of the natives having money to spend.

    Reply this comment

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