Fox LA Calls for Putting the “Breaks” On HSR Project
With such brilliantly spelled headlines like this, how could I possibly disagree?
We recently reviewed some court documents that revealed top managers of California’s high-speed rail project were concerned about project delays.
Delays that could threaten federal funding of the project and put taxpayers at risk for having to pay the money back.
Well I certainly hope they were concerned. Top managers need to be thinking about those possibilities and finding ways to avoid them. Wouldn’t you rather have managers obsessing over worst-case scenarios instead of blissfully skipping ahead without regard to the consequences?
One manager feared construction might not truly begin until 2014, putting it about a year and a half behind schedule.
Here’s what he said:
“If it appears the construction timing cannot be met because of delays, it risks the entire funding.”
That is a factual statement. Again, this is a sign of confidence in the project that they’re thinking about these situations. But to Fox LA, it’s a sign of OMG DOOM:
When Fox asked the rail authority to explain that 2014 date, we were told we were wrong. But that same day, they filed an amendment to their declaration, now stating that:
“… Construction will not begin earlier than July of 2013.”
Bottom line: they shaved off six months by changing the wording and crossing out 2014.
So what are they hiding?
Huh? This huge scandal that Fox LA claims to have unearthed is rooted in an unexplained fear that possibly maybe if all goes to hell the start date could be in 2014. The Authority also decided to move construction to July 2013. Fox sees these as related, but they’re actually not. The July 2013 date is actually driven by a desire to minimize risks and lower costs:
Jeff Morales, chief executive of the authority, said the revised schedule would have the track completed by December 2017 rather than a year earlier as set under the agency’s contracting documents. The new timetable will allow contractors to use less overtime and other practices that were expected under the accelerated plan in place earlier, Morales said.
“We are going to get lower bids, save some money and still meet all of our deadlines,” he said. “It is a good business move.”
Did Fox LA do any research or investigation at all before putting up this silly op-ed? Because it seems like they spent about as much time on research as they did on copy-editing the headline.
The irony is that Morales’ announcement should have made HSR critics happy. They’re not rushing the timeline and they’re going to save money. The fact that HSR critics are using that announcement as a basis for further attacks shows that they’re not really “critics” but “opponents.”
I’m sure they’ll get around to fixing the headline. (And when they do I might be forced to agree with them, since a bullet train without brakes is a pretty dangerous thing.) But the op-ed itself remains a deeply flawed product of a willful misunderstanding of the high speed rail project. Californians have repeatedly shown their support of this project. It’s time to get going rather than waste time with endless criticisms.