CHSRA Fires Back At Latest Flawed LA Times Article
Dan Richard and Jeff Morales, chair and CEO of the California High Speed Rail Authority, fired back in an open letter to the Legislature against what they describe as a “fundamentally misleading” article by Ralph Vartabedian in the LA Times that implied the high speed rail project faced massive cost overruns:
First, with regard to cost, the article ignores the fact that the original grant funding was for basic civil construction and did not include stations, electrification, systems and other features necessary to achieve high-speed rail operations. These additional features — which are not overruns but necessary additions — are being funded with available state funding, as detailed in the plan approved by the Authority’s Board of Directors in December 2016. That plan provides extensive details, estimating the cost at $7.8 billion, not $9.5 or $10 billion; further, the $7.8 billion includes $900 million in contingencies to cover increases.
As has been detailed in the Authority’s 2016 Business Plan, the capital costs for the program have decreased, not increased, something not reported in the article. While overall capital costs have declined, we also reported to the legislature risks to the schedule and costs associated with specific construction packages and we will continue to do so, with our next project update to be provided to the legislature in March 2017.
The letter goes on to debunk more of Vartabedian’s article, including pointing out that the FRA says California is “on track” to spend the stimulus funding by September 30.
The letter makes it clear that once again, Vartabedian wrote a biased article that did not provide his readers with a full picture of what is actually going on with the high speed rail project or the FRA’s review.