Over at the Facebook group I've been seeing some questions about what exactly AB 3034 is and what it would do for HSR. It's a good question and so I thought I'd provide a brief overview here.
AB 3034 is Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani's bill to make some changes to the bond proposal that will go before voters in November. If AB 3034 fails the HSR vote will still take place but will likely lack support from the Sierra Club and Arnold Schwarzenegger, for reasons discussed below. In fact, AB 3034 is designed to win their support, as well as the support of folks along the ACE corridor (which Galgiani represents).
Some of the specific things AB 3034 will do:
- Prevent construction of a station between Gilroy and Merced - i.e. no Los Banos station, appeasing the Sierra Club which did not want to open that region up to further sprawl.
Of course, no Los Banos station was ever proposed by the CHSRA.Actually, one was - see comments.
- Makes the HSR bond money and possible federal funds available to any portion of the line, and would eliminate the requirement to build LA-SF first. In the very first post on this blog I was deeply critical of eliminating the LA-SF first requirement, and it is my hope this can be stripped in an amendment. Galgiani's goal here is to appease folks along the Altamont corridor, as well as in Sacramento and San Diego, by holding out the possibility that they might get funded sooner than intended.
- In determining which sections will get funded first, the CHSRA is to "give priority to those segments requiring the smallest amount of bond funds as a percentage of the total construction cost and consider the utility of that segment for other passenger rail services." I still worry about this undermining the connectivity of LA-SF, which is really the reason for building HSR.
I get the sense that this bill is Galgiani's way of giving the Altamont alignment people an opportunity to get funding and service upgrades that they believe they missed out on when the CHSRA chose the Pacheco alignment. I'm all for upgrading the Altamont corridor, and I never much cared which alignment was chosen. But I think it would be an extremely bad idea to help Altamont at the cost of the LA-SF portion, which really does need to be prioritized first in construction of the system.
So is AB 3034 a good idea? That all depends on the politics. If this is the only way we can get the HSR bonds passed this fall, then I might be able to swallow it and fight another day to get LA-SF built first. But if this isn't necessary to get the HSR bonds done, or if we can firmly eliminate the Los Banos station another way (and therefore keep the Sierra Club happy) without risking the core of the system, then AB 3034 may not be such a great idea.