SACRAMENTO – State Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) on Thursday submitted written testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, entitled “Continued Oversight of the California High-Speed Rail Project.”
Vidak’s letter to Chairman Jeff Denham is below.
The Honorable Jeff Denham, Chairman
U.S. House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials
2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Denham:
Thank you for this opportunity to present testimony to your subcommittee and thank you for investigating California’s proposed so-called High Speed Rail Project.
As you know, the leadership of the California High Speed Rail Authority has for years played a shell game with revenue projections and estimated costs. The ever-changing, so-called “business plans” are little more than slick public relation pamphlets – long on rhetoric and short on details.
One of your own House colleagues – then-Democrat State Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Mark DeSauliner – saw through the High Speed Rail propaganda and voted against this hare-brained scheme five years ago.
DeSaulinier stated the true cost of High Speed Rail, if it ever even gets built, will probably be closer to $350 billion rather than the $90 billion fantasy estimate from Governor Brown’s public relations shop.
The High Speed Rail Authority has also continually pitted community against community in bidding wars to secure the so-called “maintenance hub.”
They have dangled this stale carrot up and down the Valley from Castle Field in Merced County, to the BNSF facility in Fresno and down to Bakersfield in Kern County.
Is the location for the maintenance hub finally and officially set yet? No, of course not.
How could the maintenance hub be set with the final route of High Speed Rail still up in the air?
In fact, the leadership of High Speed Rail can’t even tell the public how they will get their train over the Tehachapi range or how much that will cost.
Just saying “I think I can, I think I can” may work in cartoons but NOT when you’re playing with billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money.
They are even still promising to get from San Francisco through the Central Valley all the way to LA in 2 hours and 40 minutes. Now that is one for the storybooks!
Putting up a couple of overpasses and trestles in the flat lands of the Central Valley is the easy part and they are already being referred to locally as the “Stonehenge of Fresno” because they most likely will just sit there as is for the ages.
So let’s see: no realistic business plans, no private funding, no more federal funding, no maintenance hub location set, no determination of final routes, and no idea how to get the train over the Tehachapi’s.
Not exactly a plan coming together, is it?
Frankly, the best thing that could happen when Governor Brown is finally forced out of office next year would be to shut down the High Speed Rail Authority, turn over all the equipment and completed work to Amtrak and let them use it to improve existing rail service in the Valley.
At least that would plug the money drain and perhaps something useful could come from this after all.
Thank you for your consideration.
Senator, District 14