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Controversy Over High-Speed Rail's Starting Point, Big Decision Tomorrow

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It's been a week since the California high-speed rail authority announced they were recommending a starting point for the bullet train--a 65-mile stretch of the Central Valley starting in Madera, north of Fresno, and south to Corcoran (with stations in Fresno and Hanford to be built). Some newspaper writers have come with guns drawn, saying the starting point is indicative of the porkiness of the whole project. Criticizing numerous aspects of the train, including the route, the OC Register editorial board on Monday called for a dismantling of the high-speed rail authority. That article referenced a piece by the Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters, who wrote that the choice of starting point was politically motivated as the Obama administration, a few days before the election, promised the rail authority $715 million if the train started in Central California's San Joaquin Valley. Local congressman and bullet train supporter Jim Costa managed to narrowly win his election as a result of the announcement, Walter implies.

"[The move] illustrated the pork barrel aspects of the scheme... It also underscored the eagerness of bullet train boosters to turn dirt, thereby creating a moral commitment to complete the project despite its deficiencies," Walters writes. But the Transport Politic defends the decision to move forward with the train, saying it was a practical move since many of the other segments of the line have community opposition (south of San Francisco and near downtown LA) and this starting segment will be comparatively inexpensive (about $4 billion of the entire $43 billion line). GOOD magazine gives the rail authority credit for being pragmatic, but worries that the public will not see it that way. The authority's board will formally decide on the route tomorrow.
· Calif. May Build Train to Nowhere [Sac Bee]
· Planners Recommend Fresno-Hanford Line as First Segment [Transport Politic]