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High Speed Rail

Gabbard: High Speed Rail Route, Business Plan, Deserve a Chance

7:51 AM PST on December 14, 2011

As a long-time observer of the California high speed rail project who advocated in favor of the 2008 bond, to me one interesting recent trend is that the original hotbed of support (the Central Valley) of late has become much more skeptical and critical. Some of that is due to the dynamics of large projects -- early on excitement holds sway whereas when construction begins to approach folks begin to confront the downside impacts of such ventures, causing a backlash. And frankly, until recently, I think it can be fairly said the Authority's outreach and handling of politically sensitive aspects has been less than stellar.

I am well aware a lot of folks are having serious sticker shock about this project. But the improved business plan seems to be attacked for merely doing what critics have long asked for -- provide realistic estimates of costs, ridership and the likely timing of private investment. Plus many cities are reeling from the technology's attributes resulting in many towns being impacted without the benefit of having a station.

All that said, I am not big on second guessing the authority unlike many other rail activists. Having the first segment in the Central Valley seems a reasonable approach, especially since it is a condition of the federal funding they have been awarded. And after many convulsions this latest news of a preferred route seems to auger the project getting back on track with support from those to be most effected.

I am not unaware this is just one step in a lengthy process. And that there are many more obstacles ahead. But I think those predicting loudly of late the bullet train is on life support are being premature.

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