Transbay Terminal’s Bright Future
One of the consequences of the media’s just blithely assuming, in spite of the facts, that somehow Congressional Republican opposition to HSR means the feds will never ever fund it ever again, is that suddenly people just feel free to make wild and unsupported speculation about the future of not only the California high speed rail project but also some of its related infrastructure.
Like the Transbay Terminal. In today’s Chronicle, Matier and Ross argue the project has a bleak future:
As federal funding for high-speed rail disappears, San Francisco continues to build a $400 million underground train station that could wind up being connected to nothing….
But with the Republican-controlled Congress slashing funding for high-speed rail and questions being raised on the state level about the project’s financial soundness, there may not be any high-speed rail system for years to come.
The fallback plan would be to use the station only for Caltrain, but connecting to the current station at Fourth and King streets would still cost $1.5 billion.
And no one knows where the money would come from.
What Matier and Ross did not report is that Republicans probably won’t control the House for very long and if Democrats retake it in 2012, SF’s own Nancy Pelosi would become speaker again. As their own paper reported last week, Pelosi still supports HSR funding, as do Democrats in the Senate and the White House.
Sure, Dems could lose either the Senate or the White House, or could fail to retake the House, or get wiped out completely in 2012. Anything can happen. And that’s my point. Matier and Ross appear to not have been paying attention to modern American politics, which has become extremely volatile and uncertain. Something that happens one day could get undone the next. Last summer President Obama and Congress agreed to create a ridiculous “Supercommittee” to find a trillion dollars in spending cuts. Today the Supercommittee announced its failure. Last year Congress passed a sweeping health care reform law. If Republicans win the Senate and the White House in 2012, that law will almost certainly be undone in 2013. And it could be again restored if Democrats won the 2016 election.
There’s no doubt that the loss of federal HSR funding in the coming year is an annoyance. But it’s not going to be permanent, and therefore reporters should not suddenly treat the HSR project as if it is doomed.