Yesterday the Senate Appropriations Committee met to discuss and approve AB 3034. The committee proposed just a few amendments, most of them minor. The most significant change was the deletion of the controversial provision agreed to in the Senate Transportation Committee giving project design and engineering work to Caltrans. Several Senators and engineering companies argued this move was unconstitutional and it will no longer be part of the bill.
The committee also plans to change slightly the language regarding phased construction. Leland Yee's amendment provided that no bond funds could be spent outside of the SF-LA-Anaheim "spine" until that project had been fully completed. Here's Yee's version (indicated by strikethrough text):
usable segmentof the high-speed train system between San Francisco
Transbay Terminal and Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim.
Once construction of the San Francisco-Los Angeles usable segment is
fully funded, all remaining funds described in this subdivision
shall be used for eligible capital costs, as described in subdivision
(c), for the following high-speed train system corridors:
And here's the new language (indicated by italics):
(2) Upon a finding by the authority that expenditure of bond
proceeds in corridors other than the corridor described in paragraph
(1) would advance the construction of the system and would not have
an adverse impact on the completion of Phase 1 of the high-speed
train project, as adopted by the authority in May 2007 and described
in paragraph (1), the authority may request funding for capital
costs, and the Legislature may appropriate funds described in
paragraph (1) in the annual Budget Act or separate statute, to be
expended for the following high-speed train corridors:
(A) Sacramento to Stockton to Fresno.
(B) San Francisco Transbay Terminal to San Jose to Fresno.
(C) Oakland to San Jose.
(D) Fresno to Bakersfield to Palmdale to Los Angeles Union
(E) Los Angeles Union Station to Riverside to San Diego.
(F) Los Angeles Union Station to Anaheim to Irvine.
(G) Merced to Stockton to
Oakland and San Francisco via the Altamont Corridor.
(3) Nothing in this section shall prejudice the
authority's determination and selection of the alignment from the
Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area and its
certification of the environmental impact report.
So as I read that, the Appropriations committee has constructed a usable compromise between Yee's position and those who wish to see the bond funds become available to all segments of the ultimate HSR route. It allows the Authority to request bond funds be used for other segments of the route but only if they've determined it won't adversely impact Phase 1 - the "spine" from the Bay Area to SoCal. This is a good compromise and will allow the project to move forward with strong support from around the state.
The language also gives the Authority final determination over how to connect the SF Bay Area to the Central Valley - meaning that if this passes, Pacheco will definitely be the route used. It's about time we settled that long-running debate.
The Appropriations committee will meet again on Monday to give a final vote on the amended version of AB 3034. This blog supports the new language and believes it should pass out of committee. From there it's not clear what the schedule for consideration will be - after Monday the Senate is scheduled to go into recess until August 4. Presumably the Senate as a whole could vote on the project on Monday once the Appropriations committee passes it - that would be the ideal outcome, allowing us to move forward with the campaign to pass Proposition 1 in November.