The future of high speed rail in California is not looking very rosy. A pair of issues in just the past week have put the California High Speed Rail Authority on the ropes.
Early last week, hundreds of Southern California residents and a few folks from the Central Valley held a rally at the monthly Authority board meeting in Los Angeles. The Authority, according to a spokesman for the Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA), was scolded for nearly six hours in public testimony, with much of the message showing the Authority is still using the same tactics it used in the Central Valley in steamrolling over SoCal residents.
“Namely, the Authority is holding dog and pony shows, but not listening or taking into account questions from residents or hearing their concerns,” noted Aaron Fukuda of CCHSRA.
On a separate front, Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) chairman of the House rail subcommittee, introduced an amendment that would ban a 2012 agreement between California and the Obama administration that allowed the high speed rail project to gain federal grant funding without immediately providing required state matching funds. In a news release, Denham said that the agreement undermined federal policy and California state law.
Denham is a long-time opponent of the project.
The amendment was part of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that was approved by the House of Representatives last Tuesday. Should the Republican-led Senate follow suit, a presidential veto of the entire spending bill would be needed to stop the legislation.
“This would deal a major blow to the Authority, because it would eliminate most, if not all, the funding available to the Authority at this time,” noted Fukuda. “There is a good chance this amendment will survive and we must help our Representatives keep it alive.”
Fukuda said CCHSRA will be reaching out to individuals, businesses, growers and concerned citizens to help the effort.
“Please stay tuned. We are getting the details and will be looking towards our Congressional supporters for a strategy and direction. We hope to have something in the upcoming weeks,” said Fukuda.