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The Madera Tribune

Supervisors to eye high-speed rail

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webmaster | 01/23/12

The Board of Supervisors tomorrow will ponder a resolution which would rescind all their past support of the California High-Speed Rail System and put them on record in opposition to it.

Gov. Jerry Brown, in his State of the State Address last week made no bones about the fact he still supports the project. But he did say a better business plan has to be in place to make it work. So, you might say his support is conditional.

The Legislature isn’t sure it wants high-speed rail now that it will have to approve the sale of more than $2 billion in bonds, to match more than $3 billion in federal dollars, to get tracks on the ground between Fresno and Bakersfield — tracks but little else. Since the bond approval would have to come during an election year, it’s worth noting that many legislators might not want to defend such a vote in this year’s campaigns.

And we reported to you earlier this month, Roelof van Ark, the high-speed rail system’s CEO, and Tom Umberg, the HSR board’s chairman, both have announced their intention to step down. It’s fairly certain van Ark and Umberg stepped aside at the governor’s request, although that hasn’t been totally verified.

The first business plan for the system estimated some $45 billion would be spent. The second plan foresaw $98.2 billion being spent. Both those numbers were for essentially the same product.

What will a new plan say? How can it be any more prescient than the first or the second? Will there be anything in it to benefit Madera County?

If the supervisors vote to pull their support, they’ll be part of an ever-growing crowd, and probably would be reflecting the opinions of the majority of their constituents.

They can always change their minds again if a future plan shows the project finally being affordable and making sense, not only for California, but for Madera County as well.


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