Multiple Groups File Opposition to AB 1899

Today, a group of organizations have united in a letter opposing AB 1889, the attempted grab of Prop. 1A bond funds. They are: TRANSDEF, the Train Riders Association of California, Preserve Our Heritage, Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability and the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail.

In an attempt to evade the requirements of Proposition 1A, the HSR Bond Act, Caltrain has sponsored AB 1889. The bill would give CHSRA full discretion to declare that a rail corridor or segment is HSR-ready. This is a big deal for Caltrain, because its electrification project cannot qualify for $700+ million in bond funding under the current law. It wants the money now.

TRANSDEF Seeks RTP Alternatives

TRANSDEF today filed its scoping comments for the 2017 Regional Transportation Plan. The letter asks MTC to study a regional plan alternative in which there is no money for highway widenings or BART extensions. Instead, available funding would be spent on cost-effective transit projects and service. The intent is to maximize the reduction of GHGs by shifting travel away from solo driving.

The alternative proposes a test of the long-running MTC assertion that “transportation investments don’t move the needle” by which they mean that the investments don’t make a difference with GHG emissions or Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). TRANSDEF has always agreed that MTC’s investments don’t move the needle. However, TRANSDEF has
long contended that this is the result of a highly politicized project selection process, rather than an Ultimate Truth of transportation planning. An alternative created by TRANSDEF was studied for the 2005 RTP, and it performed better than the MTC alternative, because its projects were selected to respond to a strategic analysis of the problems.

Caltrain Electrification Suit Fully Briefed

The challenge to Caltrain’s Electrification EIR is now fully briefed. (See bottom of page.) Petitioners assert that the electrification project is really the first phase of the HSR Blended System on the Peninsula, making the EIR an impermissibly chopped study of the project’s overall impacts. A hearing has been scheduled for 9 AM, September 2, 2016 in Contra Costa Superior Court.

CEQA Preemption Appeal Fully Briefed

The appeal of the CEQA Preemption Order by the federal Surface Transportation Board for California HSR is now fully briefed. Oral argument has not yet been scheduled. The briefs are all posted on the STB page.

Press Coverage of HSR Hearing

The hearing on the Tos Part II challenge to CHSRA compliance with the requirements of Proposition 1A was held on February 11, 2016. For a listing of the press generated by the hearing, see the bottom of this page.

High-Speed Rail Dragged Back to Court

The California High-Speed Rail Authority, along with the Governor, the State Treasurer, State Controller and others are back in Department 31 of the Sacramento Superior Court on Thursday, February 11 at 9:00 am. They are fighting a motion by the Tos plaintiffs for an injunction that would shut off all funding for the construction of the current HSR project. A full description of the case, along with the briefs, is available here.