Ever since it was approved in 2008, Republicans have held the drumbeat that California’s high-speed rail was a never-ending boondoggle that would crumble California’s already thin budget.
In the ensuing years, Republican legislators have pushed for the government agency in charge of high-speed rail, the California High Speed Rail Authority, to be audited to see exactly what’s going on.
Every time, Democrats – largely on the orders of Gov. Jerry Brown, HSR’s biggest advocate in Sacramento – have killed the audit proposal.
Now, Assemblyman Jim Patterson’s proposal to audit the high-speed rail authority has gone where no prior proposal has gone before: it received the backing of the chairman of the Senate transportation committee, Democrat Jim Beall of San Jose.
And the added kicker: the Los Angeles Times, a paper that has ardently supported HSR, is beginning to have considerable second thoughts about the multibillion dollar rail project:
The Times’ editorial board has long embraced the promise of high-speed rail to provide extraordinary environmental, economic and transportation benefits — even as we’ve been frustrated by the ever-shifting plan and price tag.
Ten years after the passage of Proposition 1A and with the project again in limbo, though, it’s time for a serious reckoning. What’s it really going to take to build the bullet train?
But just because we shouldn’t be surprised that the bullet train will cost more than voters were promised in 2008, that’s no reason to push ahead on the same, exceptionally overpriced track. Instead, as the authority wraps up its latest plan for how to move this project forward, it’s a good idea to have an audit that examines how the agency got to this point.