The High Speed Rail Project is quickly turning into a high speed fail. Proposition 1A (2008) promised voters that nearly $10 billion in general obligation bonds would be used to create a high speed rail system from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Funding would be three pronged coming from the Federal government, the state, and privately sponsored entities. Nearly a decade after its approval, the first installment of the project in the Central Valley has yet to be completed and the voters are getting anxious.
Even now, the Federal government seems to have lost hope in the feasibility of a project of this scale as the U.S. Department of Transportation revoked $929 million in grant funding.
The department is also actively trying to regain the $2.5 billion it gave to California at the outset of the project.
Governor Newsom, in his State of the State address, expressed concerns with the extended timeline and bloated budget estimates relating to the project. Regardless of his concerns, he is optimistic about the project and its ability to pay for itself in a few years.
He has decided to continue construction of the Central Valley portion amidst a great deal of negative feedback from constituents and legislators alike.
Many of the residents of my district are not quite as optimistic as the Governor. They haven’t been given a reason to be optimistic and many are against the project; I stand with them. With $67 billion over the estimated amount invested in the endeavor and broken promises of the rail alleviating Antelope Valley to Los Angeles commute times, residents in the AV have lost faith in the feasibility of the high speed rail. Not only are the concerns of the Antelope Valley valid, they are being completely dismissed.
In 2015, the people of Acton, Santa Clarita, San Fernando and other cities spoke up about their concerns. They were heard, but they were not listened to. Members of the High Speed Rail team seem to have their own agenda in mind and steamrolled the conversation to try to make it seem as though the benefits will outweigh the consequences.
The project has not only changed in terms of cost and timeline, but the location has been hotly debated at the same time.
Citizens of the 36th district have expressed concerns with the proximity of the rail to their homes and ranches and they fear the increased construction and eventual traffic noise will disrupt their way of life.
Residents of Acton and rural communities enjoy the quiet, more removed atmosphere of rural living. Now it seems that even that will be taken away from them.
In the beginning, I supported the High Speed Rail project. Who wouldn’t want a 20 minute commute from the Antelope Valley to Los Angeles?
The fact of the matter is that this project is not what the voters signed up for. It isn’t fair to drag the project out more than it already has and spend exponentially more than what was approved.
More than anything else the residents in my district especially, feel that they were deceived into a project that did not have their best interest in mind.
It is time to give the decision back to the voters. They chose us to be their representatives and as such, they deserve to be given their voice back.
They voted for a project that is markedly different than the one we have seen, and if we are going to put the brakes on the operation, they should be allowed to weigh in. What is democracy without the voice and opinion of the people?
I was elected to office to serve and represent, but there comes a time when the power must be restored to the people.
This is not the High Speed Rail project we voted for.