State

High speed rail revisions drastically cuts cost

Monday, April 02, 2012

California's high speed rail project will now be about $30-billion dollars cheaper.

The California high-speed rail authority revealed a more effective proposal to the project late Monday morning. The proposal slashes nearly $30 billion from the project.

Some say the devil is in the details, and others say its a monumental project that will put our state on a successful fast track. But no matter who you ask, everyone wants to know how the government will pull it off.

"It's really a game changing event for our state and particularly for our Valley, if we can make it work," said Al Smith with the Fresno Chamber of Commerce.

According to the High Speed Rail Authority, the latest revision to the project slashes the cost by $30 billion -- lowering the price tag to $68.4 billion dollars. And they're working on a new plan for the first section of track.

"It will be a blended effect we'll use existing rails coming out of the larger cities so we won't have a dedicated track for that," said Smith.

The new plan also includes an updated track connecting Merced to the San Fernando Valley within 10 years.

Fresno chamber president Al Smith says that connectivity means everything. "We are an island not connected to the major business centers of our state."

But not everyone is on board. Fresno City Council member Lee Brand asked, "The real question is always been what is it going to cost? Is it going to pay for itself? Is the state going to sink in a sea of debt it's drowning already?"

Brand admits, in theory, it sounds pretty good. Once dubbed the "train to nowhere" the high speed rail has gone through numerous changes, debates, and revisions in the past few years. But no one has been able to come up with a satisfactory plan, and cost weighs on everyone's mind.

"They've got this cap and trade which is unproven never been done. We don't know, they estimate a billion a year who knows what it'll produce," said Brand.

Brand's main concern is what will happen to the hundreds of businesses along Highway 99.

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Tags:
high speed rail, fresno, fresno county, tulare county, kings county, merced county, state
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