Peer Review Committee Sees Improvements In New Business Plan
According to the Sacramento Bee:
The latest plan for building a California bullet train system got a very conditional blessing Tuesday from a “peer review committee” of transportation experts.
Will Kempton, the veteran transportation official who heads the committee, told a Senate hearing that the latest revision is “measurably improved” from previous versions.
“It’s more reasonable and realistic than previous proposals,” said Kempton, who runs the Orange County Transportation Authority….
Kempton stopped short of recommending approval, but he did say that before money is committed, the Legislature should make sure that there’s a competent management structure in place, that the risks are fully weighed, especially whether more money will be forthcoming from the federal government, and that the authority update ridership and operating cost projections.
Of course, one needs to consider that Kempton works for an agency whose board, dominated by Republicans, is voicing more skepticism about the project. That’s due to their ideological opposition, based in an obsolete belief that Orange County should rely on automobiles alone for travel. High speed rail will benefit Orange County too, but because conservatives still tend to dominate local elections in Orange County, OCTA board members (drawn from local councils) reflect that bias.
According to tweets from those at the Senate hearing where Kempton spoke, the three anti-HSR Democrats – Joe Simitian, Alan Lowenthal and Mark DeSaulnier – all voiced opposition to approving HSR funds as part of the budget process. One wonders when the White House and Democrats in Congress will begin putting the heavy pressure on these three to start toeing the party line.