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Feds: High-Speed Rail Construction Must Begin Next Year

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The Los Angeles Times reports that federal transportation officials rebuffed recommendations from a report by the state legislative analyst's office--among other things, the report advocated for the feds to push back their 2012 deadline for starting construction so that the high-speed rail authority could reorganize, and to work on shifting the first leg of construction from the Central Valley to somewhere closer to LA or San Francisco (Washington is calling the shots because they gave California a good chunk of change for the project). In a letter, Transportation Department Undersecretary Roy Kienitz wrote that his department "has no administrative authority to change this deadline and does not believe it is prudent to assume Congress will change it."

Kienitz also described the Central Valley start point as a "wise" choice, though the article doesn't elaborate on why (possibly because there's less resistance and fewer people and structures to complicate construction than in the LA or SF areas). The worry from some in California is that the federal government hasn't promised any more money than what it's already contributed--about $3.1 billion--so there won't be any resources for getting the line to a major city.

It's not clear if Kienitz addressed other points in the analyst's report, including its assertion that the High-Speed Rail Authority is mismanaged. The HSRA is obviously happy with the news from Washington: "This shows that we are on the same page as the feds," Jeffrey Barker, a spokesman for the CHSRA, told the Times. "They are saying no to these huge recommendations. This takes them off the table." Meanwhile, the San Jose Mercury-News says the HSRA is finally getting its act together by exploring a direct route through the Grapevine.
· Federal Officials Reject Changes Proposed for Bullet Train [LA Times]
· LA Times: Construction Should Start in LA or SF [Curbed LA]