Gov. Brown faces high-speed rail hurdles

Gov. Brown faces high-speed rail hurdles


high-speed rail front pageRepublicans’ triumph last week in the U.S. Congress already is rippling across the country. Does that bother Gov. Jerry Brown and his push for getting more federal funding for California’s high-speed rail project? So far, Congress allocated only $3.5 billion as part of President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus plan.

Apparently not. The Los Angeles Times reported:

“Gov. Jerry Brown played down concerns Thursday about Republicans killing the state’s $68-billion bullet train, saying that ‘they’re going to join the chorus’ in support of high-speed rail once construction around Fresno and Bakersfield gains momentum.”

But he’s going to need all his skills to convince them.

Even with Democrats in control of the Senate, for three years no additional funding was passed for the project. That majority included California’s two powerful, high-seniority senators. Sen. Dianne Feinstein even sits in the powerful Committee on Appropriations. And Sen. Barbara Boxer sits on the Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation and on the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

In the House, if anything the situation is worse. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of the 23rd Congressional District, who became the majority leader in the House earlier this year, just was re-elected with 75 percent of the vote. He staunchly opposes the high-speed rail project.

Other Central Valley Republicans also oppose it. Rep. Devin Nunes of the 22nd District branded it a “trillion-dollar boondoggle.” He just was re-elected with 62 percent of the vote.

On Nov. 7, McCarthy and Nunes were joined by two other California Republicans, Reps. David G. Valadao of the 21 District and Jeff Denham of the 10th District, in writing a letter to Daniel R. Elliott III, chairman of the Surface Transportation Board of the U.S. Department of Transportation. They wrote (full letter reproduced below):

“This project has changed drastically from what was promised to voters, and this is another attempt by the CHSRA to skirt the law.  On behalf of our constituents, we urge you to reject the CHSRA petition and require CHSR to adhere to state and federal laws, as well as any judicial determinations, as it continues to develop and construct high-speed rail in California.” 

Trouble ahead from Union Pacific Railroad

Part of the plan of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is constructing the train, was to use some existing infrastructure to cut the cost to the current estimate of $68 billion from $98 billion to $117 billion. It’s called the “blended plan.”

The CHSRA proposed this for the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment by using the Caltrain tracks, instead of building dedicated tracks for high-speed rail. That modification also would save billions by not having to buy pricey properties along the peninsula stretch.

The catch is, Union Pacific Railroad has vestige rights on that track and has not agreed to the blended system. They have exclusive rights to say yes or no to new interstate passenger rail systems along that corridor. As outlined in the CHSRA’s April 2014 Business Plan, it has been unable to get Union Pacific permission for the blended system.

Union Pacific Railroad filed a commentary with the STB:

“In some locations, most notably the San Francisco Peninsula, CHSRA contemplates operating high-speed trains on the same tracks as freight and conventional passenger trains. Blended service would interfere with UP’s existing and future freight operations, including access to existing and future customers.”


In sum, no significant construction has begun for the high-speed rail project because the CHSRA doesn’t have the money, the land, the railroad approvals or the environmental clearances to go forward.

And it also doesn’t have the second funding plan mandated by the July 31 ruling of the 3rd Appellate District Court, which allowed the first segment of the project to go forward.

Such funding is not on the CHSRA’s agenda for November. And the CHSRA is not planning to meet in December.

So unless the CHSRA calls a special meeting in the waning weeks of 2014, the project is bumped into 2015, seven years after voters approved it with Proposition 1A in 2008.

Meanwhile, other priorities Brown is seeking to tackle – especially water, education and pension reform – will make increasing demands on a limited state budget.

Valadao letter


Kathy Hamilton is the Ralph Nader of high-speed rail, continually uncovering hidden aspects of the project and revealing them to the public.  She started writing in order to tell local communities how the project affects them and her reach grew statewide.  She has written more than 225 articles on high-speed rail and attended hundreds of state and local meetings. She is a board member of the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail; has testified at government hearings; has provided public testimony and court declarations on public records act requests; has given public testimony; and has provided transcripts for the validation of court cases. 
















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  1. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 10 November, 2014, 13:21

    Let me try and make this as simple as possible for you folk to understand:
    There. Now do you get it? Time and time again it’s been proven beyond a reasobable doubt that regardless which major US political party owns Congress – that the outcome remains the same. Don’t you recall when the Republicans owned both houses and the executive office? What did we get? The largest economic meltdown known to the human race. So PLEASE – stop it with ‘The Republicans are here to save us’ nonsense. Everyone take a deep breath and face reality. You are living under a one-party system. If the ruling class wants to build the crazy train in California – the ruling class gets what it wants – no matter how much you protest.
    Look, a recent Gallup poll showed that about 75% of Americans do not want legalization for foreign criminals who broke into our nation and stole our jobs and leeched off our resources. 75%! And you watch the Republicans roll over for POTUS Obola and do the exact opposite of what 75% (3 of every 4) Americans want! HAH! Then you can tell me all about the Republicans riding in on their big white ponies and saving us from the mean old Democrats!!! HAH! Come on, folks. Stop living in the Land of Oz and let’s all face the real world. We live under a one-party system! Deal with it!!! 😉

    Reply this comment
  2. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 10 November, 2014, 13:28

    Oh, by the way, the signators on that letter (McCarthy, Denham, Nunes and Valadao) are 4 closet liberals who wave the GOP banner. All of them favor amnesty for illegals. All are traitors to traditional Republican values and should resign their seats. None can be trusted as far as you could throw them. McCarthy is the most dangerous since he’s the House Majority Leader. Nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. 😉

    Reply this comment
  3. Kathy Hamilton
    Kathy Hamilton 10 November, 2014, 15:10

    I have a different take. I would not waste my time with this project if I didn’t feel I could be effective. Many people have caused this project heavy delays because of activism. I find it unfortunate that nearly all the Democrats in the state legislature just went along with the Governor on this project. Fear of being cut off of party campaign funds or appointments to different committees, perhaps even their very political future was at stake were possibly the reasons why they just followed like sheep.

    Call me idealistic but I also believe in the rule of law and I believe there are hurdles this high-speed rail project cannot make. ARRA funding is one collapses in September 2017. If they aren’t finished with the money they forfeit it. A change would have be made in Congress to lengthen the time. It’s not going to happen. Additional money for the capital is another. No private investor in their right mind will invest now and probably never unless subsidized by the state.

    Law suits take a long time to work through the system but I am confident the project will implode on its very own. Unfortunately perhaps after it blows $6 billion dollars or at least the federal money and destroys homes, farms and other businesses.

    I believe people can make a difference in how they unite, work together and influence the political process. I will not roll over and say Wah, Wah, one party rule, I can’t make a difference. If I believed that I might as well live in Russia.

    Reply this comment
  4. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 10 November, 2014, 16:08

    “Call me idealistic but I also believe in the rule of law and I believe there are hurdles this high-speed rail project cannot make.”

    Okay, you’re idealistic. Even a casual observer in California and America can see that the ‘rule of law’ only applies to the peasant working class folks. If you happen to be a government official who holds high office, or an appointee who heads the DOJ or the IRS or the ATF, or a Wall Street bankster you supercede the law. If you really think ‘rule of law’ will derail the crazy train you’re in for a big surprise. I told you not to get excited when the judge ruled against the crazy train. The same judge who betrayed us the 2nd time around. heh. And I’m telling you that your ‘rule of law’ is a mere point of discussion that will do nothing to put the brakes on the crazy train, no matter how much you complain. The ruling class will prevail again. Even the SCOTUS rules in favor of the ruling class these days. The law be damned.
    “I believe people can make a difference in how they unite, work together and influence the political process.”
    The only things that influence the political process are violence (which I do not in any way condone)and money. Your voice means little to nothing. But I don’t blame you, Kathy. I used to hold your opinion too back in the 1960’s. Then I grew up. 😉
    In a matter of a year or two we will find out who’s right. Me or you.

    Reply this comment
  5. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 10 November, 2014, 16:18

    “I will not roll over and say Wah, Wah, one party rule, I can’t make a difference. If I believed that I might as well live in Russia.”

    Btw, Russia is not the fascist state that the propogandists want you to believe. North Korea? Absolutely. Russia? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. In the last 15 years we have moved MUCH closer to what the Russian people lived under in the Soviet Union. We illegally eavesdrop on our own citizens in violation of the 4th Amendment. We are nation builders and expansionists who invade other sovereign nations at the drop of a hat. We live in a virtual police state where cops can shoot down unarmed people, keep their jobs without prosecution and even get promoted. The gap between the rich (oligarchs) and the poor has widened enormously in the last 15 years. Our leaders are promoting an invasion of indigent foreigners who are allowed to steal our jobs and our resources – so the oligarchs get the cheap labor and their votes. Open your eyes, Kathy. This is no longer the America I once knew and loved. We are moving closer and closer to Soviet Unionism.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ted E Mind of your Godhead Ted
    Ted E Mind of your Godhead Ted 10 November, 2014, 21:11

    My God Duncey is talking to herself…………again

    Reply this comment
  7. Ken
    Ken 11 November, 2014, 05:42

    I know it’s blasphemy in this forum, but California needs high speed rail (HSR). Other than dumping redevelopment, which now he is reneging on, Moonbeam is OK to press on HSR. These are the only two major things on which I agree with the senile old fool, his earlier stance on redevelopment and HSR. Sorry. Look at our highways. We need modern rail services and we need them as soon as we can get them. Let’s say we wait till 2050, think things will get better and building rail lines will be cheaper? Nope, they won’t. We gotta go for it now. We’re broke anyway. Just let’s do it.

    Reply this comment
    • ricky65
      ricky65 11 November, 2014, 09:20

      Ok, Ken, I gotta ask it.. What, and where is the market for HSR?
      It will not move freight. It will not move commuters because just exactly who are the commuters who need to travel between LA and SF? If there are some, are they willing to spend 6 hrs on a train only to need to rent a car or expensive taxi once they reach their destination? A short plane ride between the two cities will always be faster and cheaper.
      And I say 6 hrs because the fantastically over advertised two hour ride is fantasy. Once all the cities along the route weigh in with their demand for a station the thing will descend into a Greyhound bus like milk run.
      Let’s face it. This is last chance for Jerry Brown to establish a real legacy. After four terms as governor he has nothing to claim as an achievement. JB is nothing like his father who dreamed big and delivered in the form of infrastructure like the state water project, nearly free university system an state college and the once fantastic freeway system.
      From the beginning of his time in the 70’s, once young Brown has only promised a an ‘era of limits’ and a ‘less is more’ philosophy. I’ll give him credit delivering exactly as promised.
      His policies have delivered chaos in the form of crumbling infrastructure, decaying schools, a hyper-partisan legislature, politicalization of the courts and militant public employee unions bleeding the taxpayers dry.
      As he approaches the twilight years, he knows he needs something to hang his hat on. There are no remembered heroes in the Luddite hall of fame. So he will do this without federal funds if need be.

      It will require digging into the pockets of already hard pressed middle class working class to keep the rails of the Brown Streak greased. There is a vast amount untapped amount of cash available using cap&trade funds extorted by ever increasing gasoline carbon taxes and other green energy scams authorized by AB 32. And if you have to destroy the middle class along the way? Well, that’s just collateral damage.
      It must be done because hell hath no fury like a politician in search of a legacy.

      Reply this comment
    • Ted E Mind of your Godhead Ted
      Ted E Mind of your Godhead Ted 11 November, 2014, 21:04

      I agree Ken— but the mood out here in teabag land is 100% wuss— way to afraid to dream big and work hard!
      Of course we need to move forward—- there aint a leader out here!

      Reply this comment
  8. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 11 November, 2014, 11:07

    R65, to see you tell it, JB raised his hands to the sky 40 years ago and created the State of CA and everything else that followed! I hate to tell you, but CA with everything it has, including the public-sector employee unions was already here before his first election. (Your pal, Governor Reagan signed on the first collective bargaining agreement for public employees in CA in 1968.) He is a mortal human being–no human being can be responsible for everything for which you give him credit or blame!

    And, knock it off, Ken. JB is not senile! He is a smart politician–a fact that must be giving you some acid reflux!

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 11 November, 2014, 23:14

      “And, knock it off, Ken. JB is not senile! He is a smart politician–a fact that must be giving you some acid reflux!”

      Ah baloney, seesaw. Didn’t you watch him debate CashnCarry. Jerry Clown is no longer an 8 cylinder. Today’s he’s only hitting on 4. By 2018 the poor man is going to have to wear a bib to keep from drooling on his shirt. Both he and Feinstein need to resign and go old folk’s home shopping together. There’s nothing more pathetic than a high-powered politician in charge of a state who’s a taco and a side of spanish rice short of a full combo. We need somebody who’s got all his marbles. Our children’s futures depend on it!

      Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 11 November, 2014, 23:16

      All we need is Mrs. Clown running the State with tarot cards and wigi boards, seesaw. This is no time to be idealistic. The future of the State is at stake! 😉

      Reply this comment
    • ricky65
      ricky65 12 November, 2014, 08:56

      Wrong, as usual.
      lReagan signed the collective bargaining law for LOCAL public employees. Brown signed the Dills Act that gave right CB rights to STATE employees and the next year to teachers in ’78&’79 as I recall.
      These two acts of stupidity spawned the birth of the CTA and the SEIU which are the source of many of our PE union problems today. Because they now wholly own the Dem party, our school scores are at the bottom in the nation and our unfunded pension liabilities are near collapse and have the taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars.
      When Reagan and Brown Sr. were in office the state we spent nearly 20% of our budget for infrastructure. Now it is only a few percent of the total and Brown,Jr. stopped nearly all of it by appointing hacks and old girlfriends to his cabinet. Adriana Gianturco was appointed director of Caltrans and stopped building freeways and highways. Rose Bird was appointed Chief Justice and threw the courts in turmoil. The death penalty was banned which why we still are feeding Charley Manson today. The voters finally had enough and later tossed her and a couple other Brown cronies off the bench, but not before permanent damage was done.
      Just a couple of examples.
      If you would get off your knees with the hero worship of this guy and read some California history you might be surprised. This has screwed up everything he has ever tried. He wanted to be a Jesuit priest and later quit the seminary. He tried to run a talk show and if tanked because people got tired of his BS rap. Was elected mayor of Oakland and left it broke with the highest murder rate in the country.
      So I guess the best thing you can say about this clown is that he’s a “smart politician”.
      Wow! At least he can put that on his empty suit statue some day. I’m still waiting for someone to point out one substantial accomplishment he has made during his tenure. Which is why he is so dangerous regarding legacy issues with the ‘Brown Streak’ and the twin tunnels project.

      Hey that reminds me: he tried to get the original peripheral canal project done in the 80’s. It was the father of the twin tunnels project today. Got slapped down by huge margins by the voters. Failure IS HIS LEGACY!!

      Reply this comment
  9. Ted E Mind of your Godhead Ted
    Ted E Mind of your Godhead Ted 11 November, 2014, 21:06

    Good reminder SeeSaw— I plum forgot how implicated the Reagan Jesus was in our current situation! Looks like a few Doomers did too!

    Reply this comment

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