Thursday, December 08, 2011

Dead Man Walking 2: high-speed rail

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point)

Governor Brown appointed Dan Richard and Michael Rossi to the California High-Speed Rail Board in an attempt to save the sinking high-speed rail project. Allowing for the fact that no one can save that misconceived project, Richard and Rossi didn't distinguish themselves the other day when they testified before an Assembly committee.

I was channel-surfing the other night---looking for Two and a Half Men---and stumbled on the California Channel's (108 on Comcast) rerun of the hearing. Instead of saving the project, the latest CHSR business plan only reinforced public doubts, since it confirmed what critics have been saying for the last two years: the price tag on the project was always understated, and the money to build the project was never really there.

The latest business plan now gives Governor Brown the perfect opportunity to kill the project, since he can legitimately claim that he did what he could to save it. It just sank from the weight of its own implausibility.

Richard even mentioned Bent Flyvbjerg, co-author of "Megaprojects and Risk." Flyvbjerg could have been writing about the CHSR project when he wrote, "Cost underestimation and overrun[for mega-projects] cannot be explained by error and seem to be best explained by strategic misrepresentation, namely lying, with a view to getting projects started." (page 16, emphasis added)

And he mentioned the most thorough-going critics of CHSR, the folks at the Community Coalition High-Speed Rail, though he called them "the three gentlemen from Palo Alto." 

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) was particularly good during the hearing. While most of her colleagues in the state legislature slumber, she's been on the case for months now.

The latest Field Poll shows that public opinion is finally catching up with all the PR bullshit produced by the CHSR Authority and the project's supporters.

Martin Engel at High-Speed Rail Talk asks the project's supporters a good question about the long-promised "private investment" in the project. If passenger rail in the US is a good investment, why did Warren Buffet buy Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway---a rail freight company---and not Amtrak? Because not only does Amtrak not make money, it is subsidized by the American taxpayers with $1 billion a year.



At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Freight Brokerage said...

Construction of this segment will generate thousands of jobs in one of the state’s highest unemployment regions. When this happen, it will be a big help.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Creating jobs is a Good Thing, but the project has to first make sense as a transportation project and as a sensible investment for the state's taxpayers. Besides, to sell the project the CHSRA exaggerates the number of jobs that will be created by the project.

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diane Harkey is hot.

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

As a Republican, Harkey is off-limits to all San Francisco progressive Democrats, as per a Memo from the Democratic County Central Committee.


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