Dennis Cardoza Slams HSR Route
Congressman Dennis Cardoza slammed the proposed Borden-Corcoran HSR construction route last week with strong language, calling it a “Thanksgiving Day fraud.”
Cardoza is today stepping up his criticism of the route selection and the California High Speed Rail Authority. Because Cardoza, a Democrat, was instrumental in bringing HSR funds to the Central Valley, his criticisms carry particularly strong weight.
Cardoza wrote a letter to Ray LaHood calling for the US DOT to “intervene” in the question of the project route:
As you can see, Cardoza claims that the Borden-Corcoran route does not meet ARRA or Prop 1A requirements, that Merced-Fresno meets the “independent utility” requirements, and that since a Hanford station wasn’t in the EIR, Merced-Fresno is the better choice. Cardoza wants Secretary LaHood to intervene and rule out the Borden-Corcoran proposal – and do so before Thursday’s CHSRA board meeting.
Cardoza sent out the following press release along with this letter:
Congressman Cardoza Condemns High Speed “Train To Nowhere”
Requests Intervention From U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Authority
For Immediate Release: November 30, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Dennis Cardoza strongly condemned the High Speed Rail Authority today and demanded an explanation for the wasteful use of tax funding and illogical decisions being made about the proposed first route.
The HSR Authority board is on the verge of adopting a staff proposal this week that would ignore two previously considered routes for the high-speed passenger train and instead create a hybrid route running between the community of Borden, outside of Madera, and Corcoran, south of Hanford.
The board was expected to either approve a route between Bakersfield and Fresno, or Merced and Fresno, according to a grant that was awarded to California through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. On the day before Thanksgiving, as most were preparing for the long holiday weekend, the Authority quietly released news that it was instead choosing a hybrid route rather than a route already reviewed by the public.
Cardoza called the announcement a “Thanksgiving Day Fraud” and joined many others today in referring to the route as “The High Speed Train To Nowhere.”
In a two-page letter today, Congressman Cardoza requested that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood immediately intervene to enforce the Federal Railroad Administration’s directive on the use of a recent $715 million federal grant. Please click here to read the letter.
“The intent of the Legislature and Californians in passing Proposition 1A in 2008 was to build the system as fast as possible, maximizing ridership and the mobility of Californians in a manner that yields the most benefit consistent with available revenues,” Cardoza said in the letter.
“The Merced-Fresno segment represents the backbone of this rail system, providing crucial links to Sacramento, the Bay Area, and Southern California. The Merced-Fresno segment offers a line that is ready to go and will provide a functioning segment, connecting two stations and an operating line that has independent utility. In contrast, the Borden-Corcoran segment with a high-speed train (HST) station in the Kings/Tulare region near Hanford violates Proposition 1A because it cannot be considered a “useable segment” and it currently does not meet FRA’s requirement of independent utility.”
Cardoza also said he remains concerned that the Authority is subverting voter intent and public input from numerous meetings held on the two expected routes:
“What is at stake with this decision is absolutely monumental and marks the cornerstone of the future of high speed rail. For the HSR Authority to choose this route is to significantly undermine the public’s trust, marks a gross misuse of taxpayer funds, and will alienate significant supporters of the project, including in Southern California and the Bay Area. To accept the route recommended by staff is akin to derailment of an otherwise highly valuable infrastructure project that Californians have said they support.”
Cardoza isn’t mincing words here. And his influence is considerable, given the heavy lifting he did to bring the funding to the Central Valley.
Whether or not Secretary LaHood steps in, the lines are being clearly drawn. CHSRA CEO Roelof van Ark believes that the most important thing to do is lay track from SF to LA, and sees Borden-Corcoran, with stations at Fresno and Hanford, as the best way to get that started. Reports suggest that the CHSRA board is split, with some sympathetic to Merced, others to van Ark, and others to both.
What happens on Thursday is anyone’s guess. But Cardoza’s intervention, whether or not he succeeds in getting LaHood to step in, may help tip the scales against the Borden-Corcoran plan. We will see what happens.