Opinion: On high-speed rail, Senate Transportation Committee is off the track

While the Legislature certainly has an important role in overseeing California’s high-speed rail project, those of us who see the great benefits of high-speed rail to California can’t help but feel dismayed at the adversarial tone the Senate Transportation Committee has taken toward the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

With 30 percent and growing unemployment in the construction trades, our members need the Legislature to be doing all it can to support this project – the largest and most complex public infrastructure project in the nation. Instead, it appears as though some are simply setting this project up for failure.

Just last year, labor, California’s Congressional delegation and the State Legislature all came together to lobby the federal government for high-speed rail funds, and we received the largest award in the nation for a high-speed rail project. Why?  Because we have the best project.

There is a tight time frame for obligating these federal funds.  So why does this committee continue to place obstacles in the way of the Authority getting the job done?

We need this project.  Californians need the jobs, our economy needs the help, and our future needs the economic and environmental benefits high-speed rail will provide.

What the high-speed rail project needs is for the Legislature, administration and Authority to work together cooperatively – as other states are doing – and come up with solutions to the issues identified in the LAO and state auditor’s report.  Issues, by the way, that could be addressed in large part if this committee and the Governor’s office would let the Authority hire enough people to do the job…and do it right.

The project is beginning the transition from planning to implementation, and it is critical that the Authority have the resources and support to be able to properly manage a project of this size and scope.  If the Legislature does not, they will be the ones putting this project at risk.
High-speed rail… done right.  Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to want?

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