The GOP is rallying its troops in an effort to throw the California High Speed Rail project off its tracks. Efforts to do so, however, have been met with the full-blown resistance of the rail backers; they are not giving up their high-speed train without a fight.
Valley GOP delegates are deploying a transportation funding bill for fiscal year 2015 that would effectively prohibit allow the federal Surface Transportation Board for issuing the project new permits. Furthermore, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, proposed an amendment to the bill, which was passed by the House, restricting CHSRA from getting any money from the $52 billion transportation bill. CHSRA made it clear, however, that it would not need any more federal funding for the fiscal year which starts October 1. CHSRA has already received $3.8 billion in federal funds for the high-speed rail project in the upcoming fiscal year.
California High Speed Rail Authority board chairman, Dan Richard, stated the actions of the rail opponents are an attempt at politicization of transportation policies and will lead to leaving almost 9,000 California employees jobless. Richard argues that since April, these 9,000 employees have been benefiting from the contracts that have risen from the project. Killing the high-speed rail, according to Richard, would lead to 71 companies in the Central Valley and 47 Fresno area companies to lose contracts for jobs for the high-speed rail.
In the 155-page transportation bill, project opponents include a provision that the Surface Transportation Board cannot take any action on the project unless it does so in whole, not in part. So far the STB has been reviewing phases of the rail project and issuing permits based on specific phases. More recently, the CHSRA board approved the 114 mile track from Fresno to Bakersfield. STB has yet to take action in regards to the newly approved phase. However, the bill will restrict STB’s action in a way which affects the whole rail project, from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The White House Office of Management and Budget opposes the provision and supports the rail backers in their effort to address transportation needs and opposes “any attempts to limit state choices in enhancing passenger rail.”