Almanac

Viewpoint - November 23, 2011

Letter: More expenses to come for high-speed rail

The net effect of Judge Michael Kenny's recent decision in the lawsuit filed by Atherton and Menlo Park against the California High-Speed Rail Authority essentially means that the authority must de-certify the Environmental Impact Report which covers the Bay Area to Merced, making it the second time that an adverse ruling has been issued on this EIR.

The response by the Authority to this ruling is amazing. In a press release, the Authority said, "Today's ruling is a victory for high-speed rail and its continuing progress"

Boy does it take chuptzah to issue a press release like this. The ruling at a minimum means delay. The Authority must now spend many thousands of dollars more on studies and must pay its own court costs and legal fees, and also the expenses of the petitioners, including Atherton, Menlo Park and others.

The ruling also affects the funding plan just approved for the start of the project, since the northern option of that plan includes the area covered by this EIR.

Proposition 1A, passed in 2008, requires that all environmental work be completed before funding can be obtained from the bonds authorized by the proposition.

As this project has moved forward, we realize just how the voters and the Legislature have been deceived by the Authority time and time again. The new cost estimate of $98.5 billion is triple the original cost of $32 billion that voters were given in 2008.

What isn't being widely reported is that the final total cost of the project could be well over $250 billion when interest and principal repayment on the bonds and debt is included.

Governor Jerry Brown just came out again with his enthusiastic support for the project. Note in his statement he says how funding will be found:

"Still, the start of construction with the money in hand represents a prudent next step," and the state could find future sources of funding in new types of federal bonds, in state taxes, or even by securing more federal funding, Gov. Brown said."

A fundamental premise of Prop 1A when presented to the voters in November 2008 was that:

• It would require no new taxes.

• The $9.95 billion in bonds from Prop 1A would be all that would ever be asked from the voters of California.

Morris Brown, Stone Pine Lane, Menlo Park

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