Judge right about high-speed rail

The 2008 voter pamphlet required securing federal, private, and local public matching funds before construction of the high-speed rail. That didn't happen.

The pamphlet said the entire 800-mile system would cost $56 million per mile. Now the state says $122 million per mile, with an opening date 13 years later than promised.

The first 520 miles -- mostly going east, not south -- will cost $130 million per mile. It will share tracks with local freight. That's not "high speed."

Does anyone, anywhere, believe the state of California can build cheaper than the BART extension to the Oakland Airport at $156 million per mile (an obscene cost in itself)? And the BART job is entirely in one city: dealing with one local government, on an existing right-of-way, on one road.

The state will be negotiating with hundreds of entities: federal regulators, parks and water agencies, farm bureaus, cities, counties, towns, villages, property owners and local environment regulators.

One need only lament the state-owned Bay Bridge new east span, which cost 600-700 percent beyond the original plan.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a deal with voters is a deal, not a suggestion. Let's vote again.

Joe Moran

Orinda

Project is not what people voted for

I have always been a staunch proponent of public transportation and the type of high-speed rail that exists in Japan and France. I supported and optimistically voted for the California high-speed rail bonds.


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But everything has changed. Instead of San Francisco to San Diego, we have San Francisco to Los Angeles. With building starting in the lower populated Central Valley, it will likely be underutilized for years. It may not even be that high speed or timesaving anymore. Certainly not a lower priced alternative to flying.

The total cost is now more than three times higher than we were told and voted for. Even with the federal funds of $3.3 billion, this is not the same project voters approved.

If you agreed to buy a five-bedroom house for $500,000 and it's now a three-bedroom house for $1.5 million, would you still agree to the purchase or re-evaluate your decision?

The judge did the right thing in stopping the sale of the bonds.

Kevin Wilk

Walnut Creek Wilk is a Walnut Creek transportation commissioner.

Opposition to rail project is surprising

I am amazed and shocked by the Times' continuous opposition to high-speed rail in California, which would also be the first in the United States.

High-speed rail is an efficient means to transport people quickly over long distances. I have ridden it in Japan several times and am amazed at its comfort and speed. Remember, the transcontinental railroad was funded by Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln during our Civil War.

I would like to see a second opinion (appeal) of the judge's rulings and then quickly proceed while there are federal and state resources available. Private funding should be anticipated following such a decision.

I live in Martinez, a passenger rail hub in California. I ride the Capitol Corridor trains, as well as the California Zephyr, the Coast Starlight and the San Joaquins.

Doug Sibley

Martinez

Just one more 'boondoggle'

I totally agree with the judicial decision to stop sale of high-speed project bonds.

Gov. Jerry Brown already has a legacy project: the new Bay "Boondoggle" Bridge. The taxpayers do not owe him another.

Considering the multiplicity of proposed stations, I do not see this as significant high-speed travel unless there are nonstop trains between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

A significant aspect of high-speed rail service is identical to that associated with air travel: the time and cost relating to travel from your home to your final destination at the end of your trip.

The cost of providing infrastructure for arrival and departure connecting transportation will be very expensive. These facilities already exist at all major airports, so why not use airports as termination points? Most airports are relatively inactive during nighttime.

In any case, this project would likely be obsolete by the time it was completed. The future of high-speed trains is likely to be that of magnetic levitation and propulsion -- not steel wheels on steel rails.

The presumed private-sector financing portion has not materialized and likely will not.

Edward Zawatson

Concord

Let the public decide on project by vote

I agree with Judge Kenny's ruling blocking the sale of bonds for this "train to nowhere."

In California, the public is never told the true cost.

In 2008, voters approved this project, at a cost of $48 billion for a train from Sacramento to San Diego. Now it's $68.8 billion from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The distance has been reduced and the cost's gone up, with no work done yet. At this rate, the project will cost $135 billion in 2029 (simple math).

California has a track record of projects being underestimated and then costing three or four times as much. The cost for the new section of the Bay Bridge rose from less than $2 billion to almost $7 billion.

We're still not out of a deep recession. Cities are filing for bankruptcy, schools are closing, police and fire services are being trimmed, and we're considering wasting billions of dollars on this rathole of a project?

Californians voted for a rail system whose cost is escalating out of control. The project has lost public support and more than 59 percent of the people say they'd vote against it. Let the public decide the fate of this project.

It's time to stop this project before Gov. Jerry Brown or his supporters force our children and grandchildren to pay for it.

Virendra Jain

Concord

Would like chance to vote again on it

I agree with the judge's decision. Anything that can slow down or stop this "train to nowhere" is a good thing for the state. It isn't necessary, with Interstate 5 working just fine. It seems like it's just folly -- a dream of a politician who wants to add to his "legacy" -- Gov. Jerry Brown.

My wish is that another ballot measure appears, so that Californians can vote again on the high-speed rail project, now that we are learning more about it.

Dorothy K. Baker

Newark

Bullet train's plan not what was sold

I strongly agree with the judge's decision to stop the sale of high-speed rail bonds.

First, this isn't the bond measure we voted in. Second, it was supposed to go from the Bay Area to Sacramento and Los Angeles and San Diego.

This paper has already printed an editorial stating that only 5 percent of Californias citizens will have any use for a bullet train, but 100 percent of us will have to pay for it.

We need a bullet train like we need a 10.5 earthquake. Spending $69 billion for it? Couldn't this state put that money to a better use? Like help for education, help for social services, the governor has to give early releases to prisoners due to over crowding, so how about we build another prison?

Our elected officials can surely find better uses for this money.

A bullet train is a stupid idea and a waste of money. Let's get our priorities straight.

Bruce Barry

Hayward

It makes no sense to sell the bonds

I definitely agree with the judge regarding the high-speed rail. It will be another boondoggle.

After what happened with the Bay Bridge cost overruns, I can't imagine what will happen with the high-speed rail. Plus the route of the high-speed rail doesn't make sense. The bonds shouldn't be sold.

Michele Jordan

Oakland

Voters should act on revised plan

The recent major cost overruns of the latest Bay Bridge construction project clearly indicates a need for realistic fiscal projections.

Major budgetary miscalculations must not be allowed to proceed on an unaccountable business-as-usual mode by government entities and their contractors, especially for new, unnecessary projects and especially when their formation was based within electoral conditions and restrictions.

The bullet train in California was approved by the voters in principle.

The cost restrictions and construction process of the project have greatly exceeded the parameters of the approved ballot measure. Former head and proponent of the California High-Speed Railroad Authority Quentin Kopp has stated the obvious. The project being undertaken is not the project that was approved by the voters.

Either modify the project to within the established parameters, quash the project altogether or let the voters decide again on the actual project with the modified valid cost projections.

Reputable polls indicate voters would not allow the bullet train to proceed on its modified costs and plans.

John Thurston

Hayward