The U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, which is chaired by California’s Representative Jeff Denham, is holding a congressional field hearing in San Francisco today on the status of the California high-speed rail project. The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 9am in Room B040 of the San Francisco Federal Building, 90 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.
The oversight hearing states that it “will examine the status and evolving scope of the project, and what levels of federal and state support could be necessary in order to see the project to completion.” Currently, the witness list is as follows:
- The Honorable Sarah Feinberg, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
- Mr. Dan Richard, Chairman of the Board, California High-Speed Rail Authority
- Mr. Jim Hartnett, CEO, Caltrain
- Mr. Stuart Flashman, Attorney, Law Offices of Stuart Flashman
- Mr. Robbie Hunter, President, State Building & Construction Trades Council of California
Rep. Denham has been a longtime vocal skeptic of the project, and is expected to negatively critique the project’s budget and its most recent business plan. However, the administration has been clear that construction is well underway in the Central Valley, posting regular construction updates on work being completed in Madera County on bridge abutments at Cottonwood Creek, on Tuolumne Street Bridge in downtown Fresno, on the San Joaquin River viaduct, and the State Route 99 alignment.
In a press release in April of this year, High Speed Rail Board Chair stated: “With existing funding and more than 119 miles of active construction in the Central Valley already underway, our 2016 Business Plan sets forth a plan to complete the construction of a high-speed rail line between Silicon Valley and Central Valley by 2024, with passenger service operations beginning in 2025.”
The most recent business plan was characterized by the HSR Board as a “foundational document” that “reflects the transition from planning to construction to providing passenger service for the nation’s first high-speed rail”. The plan also included a reduction in overall capital costs from $67.6 billion to $64.2 billion.
ACEC California continues to strongly support the landmark, visionary transportation project, and its members will be instrumental in the continuing progress towards a full build out.
Ultimately, Californians will significantly benefit from this type of alternative transportation system because it will:
- Provide long distance commuters with a safe, convenient, and affordable alternative to flying or driving.
- Reduce increases in air traffic and the need to expand capacity at the state’s airports.
- Reduce California’s dependence on oil.
- Enhance economic opportunities statewide through improved connectivity.
- Create new commercial and industrial hubs along the rail alignment.
Finally, the high-speed rail system will also utilize alternative procurement methods such as Design-Build and Public Private Partnerships, which will produce efficient and economical delivery of the project’s final completion.