Shakeup in Calif. bad news for high-speed rail?

Posted on January 13, 2012 by Alex Roman - Also by this author

In surprising news yesterday, California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark announced his departure, effective in February. The authority's chairman of the board, Thomas J. Umberg announced that he would also vacate his position and recommend that Dan Richard, who was recently appointed to the board by Gov. Jerry Brown, assume his leadership role.

The departure of van Ark and Umberg comes a week after an independent review panel issued a critique of the project and refused to recommend that the state issue billions in bonds to help fund the first leg of the 520-mile project in the Central Valley. Simultaneously, federal support of high-speed rail remains to also catch fire, which it has since President Obama and his Administration said that it would look at the technology as a way to both create jobs and prepare the nation for the future growth in population.

The shake-up coincided with Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to move the rail authority into a newly created transportation agency that includes the state's Department of Transportation, according to KNBC. Gov. Brown's decision to do so is said to be a signal to Feds that he still believes that project is viable. Likewise, the appointment of Dan Richard, a long-time Gov. Brown associate, is said to be a signal that the governor remains in full support of the project, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Even with all that said, to say California's high-speed rail project is on tenuous ground would be an understatement. Do you think the so-called "California Bullet Train" will ever become a reality?

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