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High-Speed Rail Board Chair: Lower Cost, More Bond Funds Up Front

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, March 5, 2012

NOTE: After our interview aired, the High-Speed Rail Authority clarified that it will ask for bond funds for the regional projects in future years, not this one. You can read the Authority's clarification letter to state lawmakers and listen to our story here.

Lawmakers have been expecting a vote to approve $2.7 billion in bond sales this year from voter-approved Proposition 1A.  But in an interview with Capital Public Radio, California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Chair Dan Richard says that number could go up.

Richard: "It might.  It might well.  But I think at this point, that makes sense."

That's because the Authority is revamping its strategy after the cost zoomed up to nearly $100 billion.  Richard says the revised business plan will focus not only on the first track-building phase in the Central Valley - but also on regional projects in the Bay Area and Los Angeles that would benefit high-speed rail too.  He says that, in turn, would help reduce the overall cost.

Richard: "I think you'll see us bringing that number down - not because we've sprinkled pixie dust on it because it was a controversial number, but by showing people that hey, if we make this change here, that change here, these are the specific savings associated with them."

Richard says the extra bond funds would help get those regional projects started.  Lawmakers in both parties have criticized the project's cost and feasibility.  Some call it a "boondoggle" and a "train to nowhere."

Click here to listen to Ben's interview with Dan Richard:

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