High-Speed Rail Showdown at City Hall

Rich Gordon to chair meeting on High Speed Rail Authority’s Business Plan.

The principal critics of California’s high-speed rail plan will come with the project’s leadership at Palo Alto City Hall.

The meeting, chaired by California Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), will include a presentation of the by California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roloef Van Ark and Board Members Jim Hartnett and Michael Rossi.

That presentation will be followed by a series of response and comment panels featuring members of the , the High Speed Rail Peer Review Group, UC Berkeley’s Institute for Transportation Studies (ITS),  and citizen groups such as local watchdog .

The comment panels will be sure to focus on ridership forecasts, which were modified in the latest draft of the Authority’s Business Plan, but continue to rely on a model that critics consider to be flawed.

Another critique likely to surface tomorrow night surrounds the Authority’s decision to move forward with its first leg of construction in the Central Valley—the Initial Construction Segment—without finishing the necessary environmental reviews.  

CARRD sent a letter (see sidebar) to the HSRA Board last week detailing these concerns. 

“The Authority is planning to start construction without completing reviews,” the letter said.

CARRD co-founder Elizabeth Alexis will be joined on a comment panel by Daniel Krause, executive director of Californians for High Speed Rail, and Aaron Fukuda, a representative of California High Speed Rail Accountability.

That panel will follow a second group that includes Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of Bay Area Council, Cesar Diaz, Legislative Director for State Building and Construction Trades, and William Grindley, of Community Coalition on High Speed Rail.

During the last year, numerous other concerns have surfaced around the rail project, including over its pricetag, which , , , , and , to name a few.

The comment panels will likely not be entirely critical of the new plan. Californians for High Speed Rail, for instance, sent an open letter to Peninsula City Councils last year calling for a "Peninsula Reset."

The letter urged elected officials "who have so far taken a generally hostile and adversarial tone to 'reset' this approach to be constructive, ensuring
that the HSR project is built in a way that meets the needs of the people of California and is sensitive to the residents of the Peninsula."

The meeting will take place in Council Chambers at tomorrow, November 15, at 1:30 p.m.

Martin Engel November 15, 2011 at 02:11 AM
It's WIlliam Grindley, not Gridley. Minor point (since I'm not William) in a good article. A few words about the central issues; i.e., costs, ridership, future funding likelihood, etc.would have added some substance. But, Aaron, you're on the right track, so I'm told.
Aaron Selverston November 15, 2011 at 02:25 AM
Martin, thanks for the fix. I made the change. I'll also add some links on the points you raised that connect to earlier stories I've written. Thanks again!


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