Vidak: Stop the Train. End the Blight.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sacramento – Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) today introduced two measures related to California’s controversial High-Speed Rail (HSR) project: Senate Bill 414 calls for an HSR revote; Senate Bill 415 addresses abandoned and unused HSR property.

Senate Bill 414 would allow voters to decide on the June 2018 Ballot if the state should continue to sell $8 billion in remaining bonds to fund HSR or re-direct that money to expand and fix state highways and local roads.

“High-Speed Rail is a failure and an embarrassment on several fronts, including (but not limited to) massive cost overruns, constant construction delays, zero private-sector money and loss of federal funding,” said Vidak. “Voters deserve a revote on this boondoggle.”

Today’s High-Speed Rail breaks virtually every promise made to voters in 2008; it won’t maintain high speeds, it’s not being built along existing corridors, it’s likely to cost hundreds of billions of dollars and it’s doubtful it will ever be completed.

Senate Bill 415 will require the High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) to either use or sell abandoned property the HSRA originally said it needed to build the HSR project.

Properties the state has taken for High-Speed Rail sit abandoned and unused. The Authority has said it needs nearly 1,300 properties to complete the 118-mile route from Madera to Bakersfield. The route changes more often than the seasons, leaving blight in its wake throughout the Central Valley.

The HSRA has been given similar rights-of-way as Caltrans. A 2012 state audit revealed that Caltrans wasted millions of dollars annually mismanaging properties it acquired for the decades-long, failed State Route 710 expansion project in the Pasadena area.

SB 415 will put the HSRA on a three-year timeline, requiring the authority to either use property or sell it before the state loses millions more in mismanagement costs.

“It’s wrong to waste tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on abandoned, blight-ridden properties,” said Vidak. “SB 415 gives the High-Speed Rail Authority the time to either use it or lose it,” said Vidak.