Farmers and family businesses in the San Joaquin Valley have been fighting the High Speed Rail Authority’s efforts to acquire property through eminent domain.
That battle will continue.
Now, local residents of communities along the foothills of the Angeles National Forest and Monument are opposing all route options for the Palmdale-Burbank leg of the expensive project. They have allies in key elected officials at all levels of government, including Congressman Adam Schiff and State Senator Carol Liu.
It is not that these two representatives are against the project as a whole, but their reticence on HSR’s route through this strategic passage could force planners into studying equally controversial routes, including one through the Tejon Pass following I-5.
The in-fighting between communities will create political havoc for the HSRA. Undoubtedly, courts will become involved.
This is actually good news.
The more obstacles the bloated project faces, the longer the delays and the more likely support and money will dry out before the state blows the full $68-billion that could be applied to far more critical capital improvements. Regardless, $68-billion is probably a lowball estimate with or without the cost of extensive tunneling through the Angeles Mountains.
Already, the prospects of long-term federal financial support are weak. While Congressman Jeff Denham’s amendment that would force the HSRA to prove they have the funds required for federal matching against the current commitment may or may not make it through the US Senate, it is evidence that future federal support will not be forthcoming.
Diversion of cap-and-trade tax revenue – an important piece of the state’s funding plan – will not be enough to complete the train in anyone’s lifetime. The only benefit will be to whisk untold thousands of commuters between the vital Bakersfield to Modesto corridor.
Don’t get me wrong – I like trains. Some of my commutes through the greater LA metro area have relied on MTA, Metrolink and Amtrak.
But as I pointed out in a widely-read article a few years ago, capital investments in intra-regional rail systems will yield a far greater reduction in road congestion and pollution.
HSR is simply Governor Brown’s vanity project, but we are the ones paying for it.