Good and bad news on bullet train(s) front

March 24, 2013

By Chris Reed

train_wreck_num_2As I wrote last week, the budget that Senate Democrats have embraced contains so little discretionary funding for California’s bullet-train project that it is impossible to see how the $68 billion project ever gets done.

But here’s an interesting twist. The primary author of the budget — Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. — is so down on the Obama administration’s bullet train initiative that she tried to kill it in 2011. This is from a Sept. 21, 2011, AP story:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-led Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to provide $100 million to build high-speed rail lines, a small portion of what President Barack Obama has proposed for one of his economic priorities.

“The panel voted by voice Wednesday to include the money in a $110 billion transportation and housing bill for next year.

“Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the bill’s author, included nothing for high-speed rail in the original measure, citing budget constraints.

“But senators backed an amendment by No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois adding the money. He said it would be paid for with unspent money from past home district projects called earmarks.’

The Vegas-to-Victorville bullet train. Yes, I said Victorville.

That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news: There’s another costly bullet-train program still alive that we don’t hear much about — and its advocates are still somewhat cocky that billions of dollars in now-available federal funds will be wasted on it. It is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s farcical plan to link Las Vegas with, yes, Victorville with a high-speed rail project dependent on federal dollars.

For those who don’t know their Socal geography, Victorville is 85 miles from Los Angeles — 85 congested miles on Interstates 15 and 10. This is only slightly less crazy than the California bullet train’s first segment being built in farm country in the Central Valley.

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