Silicon Valley's main newspaper doesn't mince words in its attack on the legislature's moronic attack on high speed rail:
Innocently or not, a poison pill for California's high-speed rail project has been slipped into the state budget. Lawmakers have to remove it before a budget is signed into law, or else the project approved by voters will suffer a possibly irreversible setback. At a minimum, it's likely to cost the Bay Area more than $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars expected for the project.
The budget appropriation includes a sentence, apparently inserted by clueless staff members, that calls for further study of different routes through the Bay Area. But all the routes, including the environmentally devastating Altamont Pass option, were thoroughly studied and argued at public hearings. This led to the selection a year ago of the Caltrain route through San Jose and the Peninsula to San Francisco. Some Peninsula residents don't want the trains, but it's not for lack of study.
Redoing the work would set the project back a year or more and squander the federal dollars, which will be contingent on a 2012 groundbreaking. The lack of legislative support for the current plan implied by the study requirement could be another crippling blow in future quests for funding.
If it's true that "clueless staff members" inserted the provision then there should be no debate about removing it. Of course, the provision fails on its merits, as we have thoroughly discussed in the comments to yesterday's post. As the Mercury News noted, there were exhaustive hearings and debates on the HSR route. Altamont advocates had years to argue their case. They did an admirable job of it, and the CHSRA decided on something else. Those advocates can either accept the decision and work to ensure HSR gets built, or they can undermine the HSR project and cost the state billions of dollars just because they didn't get their way.
Similarly, Peninsula NIMBYs who want the CHSRA to waste even more time and money studying the flawed and unworkable 280 or 101 alignment aren't advancing a legitimate technical case, but are trying to undo 11 years of studies merely because they don't like the outcome. CHSRA studies laid out the reasoning for rejecting 280 and 101, but nothing's going to be good enough for these NIMBYs.
Let's hope the Legislature does the right thing and takes this costly and reckless provision out of the budget.