Damn, the California high-speed rail project just can't catch a break (a little funding windfall care of Florida aside). The state Legislative Analyst's Office recently released a report casting doubts on the $43 billion project and declaring that Caltrans should take control of the project from the California High-Speed Rail Authority. In an editorial today, the Los Angeles Times seconded that latter suggestion, saying the CHSRA are simply buddies of bureaucrats who have no idea what they're doing—and that one of their biggest mistakes is directing the route through Palmdale and Lancaster instead of following I-5 through the Grapevine (though the Authority is currently studying the feasibility of the Grapevine route).
The LAT also takes offense at construction starting in the Central Valley, even though the federal government has said construction must start next year if we want to keep its money, and construction closer to LA or San Francisco is a ways off as routing issues (near LA) and lawsuits (near SF) must be dealt with first. Regardless, the paper writes that officials should begin "renegotiating terms with the federal government and building the initial segment in a more populous area, such as between San Francisco and San Jose or between Los Angeles and Anaheim... such renegotiation could jeopardize federal funding and delay construction, but the needless haste created by Washington's arbitrary deadlines have resulted in mistakes that could be extremely costly."
While the LAT wants a train in a more populous center (heck, we all do), the Authority looks to be banking on building momentum from the initial construction it'll start next year, and creating more incentive for federal funds to be awarded so the line can stretch to an actual center of commerce and culture (it would be easier to call it a day after an LA-Anaheim or SF-San Jose line is finished than after just a Borden-Corcoran line is). The CHSRA hasn't yet responded to a request for comment.
· California's High-Speed Train Wreck [LAT]