Lynn Schenk Reappointed to CHSRA Board
Governor Jerry Brown has reappointed Lynn Schenk to the board of the California High Speed Rail Authority, where she has served for nearly 10 years. It’s a good move on the governor’s part, as Schenk has long experience with the project while also representing the interests of San Diego, the state’s third largest metropolis.
The CHSRA press release announcing Schenk’s reappointment explained that her HSR roots run as deep as Jerry Brown’s, if not deeper, in board chairman Dan Richard’s words:
We greatly appreciate Governor Brown re-appointing Lynn Schenk to the Authority’s Board. Lynn is much more than a stalwart member of this Board. It was Lynn Schenk who originally proposed the high-speed rail network in the 1980’s when she was the Secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency during Governor Brown’s earlier tenure. As a member of Congress she authored legislation signed by President Clinton establishing high-speed rail corridors across the nation. Lynn Schenk is known as the “Mother of high-speed rail” for very good reason. I am so pleased that she will continue to provide her guidance and leadership as we move forward.
30 years after setting the first spark for high speed rail in California, Lynn Schenk will be on the board when ground is finally broken on the project in the Central Valley. It’s fitting, but it also should not have taken so damn long. It was clear 40 years ago, in 1973, that California could not afford to hitch its transportation future to oil. After a second oil shock had hit in 1979, high speed rail began to emerge as a concept in California. The 1980s should have seen a system planned and begun. It could have been completed by the year 2000.
Instead California chose to avoid reality and spent those decades trying desperately to continue the 20th century version of the California Dream, one that relies on oil and freeways to move people. Precious time was lost and now the cost of building the system is even greater than it would have been had Schenk and Brown been listened to. Instead the Legislature killed HSR in 1983. They eventually realized their mistake, and now we’re back on track, under the leadership of those who had originally understood the problem and its solutions.