Multiple Groups File Opposition to AB 1899
06/27/16 Filed in: High-Speed Rail
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.
The AP story in the Bee made it clear that Caltrain is trying to bust the 1A requirement that usable corridors be built to be ready for HSR: “What we’re trying to clarify is that this does serve the purpose of that but we don’t have to wait for the entire corridor of high-speed rail track to be built for the money to be ready to be spent,” the Caltrain spokesman said.
Unfortunately for Caltrain, Prop. 1A requires that any project seeking bond funds to improve a corridor or usable segment of that corridor be certified as HSR-ready at the completion of the project. Caltrain’s electrification project explicitly excludes the improvements that will be required to bring HSR to the Caltrain Corridor, which include grade separations, quad gates, station platforms, passing tracks, and curve straightenings.
This is especially revealing, in that this is the precise issue being litigated in Town of Atherton v. Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. Caltrain wants HSR bond money, but isn’t willing to acknowledge that its electrification is part of the HSR project, and isn’t willing to live under the restrictions of the bond measure. Their unsubtle message is “Just give us the money!”