HSRA Approves Pacheco Yet Again

HSRA Approves Pacheco Yet Again 04/19/12 Filed in: High-Speed Rail On April 19, in accordance with writs issued by the Sacramento Superior Court in response to litigation by TRANSDEF and its allies, the CA High-Speed Rail Authority rescinded its previous certification of the 2010 Revised Final Program EIR for the Bay Area to Central Valley portion of its HST project, and rescinded its approval of the Pacheco route. After that action, the Board certified a Partially Revised Final Program EIR and adopted the Pacheco route. While the result was the same as its 2010 action, this time was different. Authority…

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Senate Holds Fiery HSR Hearing

Senate Holds Fiery HSR Hearing 04/18/12 Filed in: High-Speed Rail On April 18, Budget Subcommittee #3 conducted a hearing on High-Speed Rail. Chairman Joe Simitian asked many pointed questions as to the viability of the proposed 130 mile Central Valley project. Compelling testimony from the Legislative Analysts’ Office cast strong doubts on assertions in the HSRA Business Plan that the Authority would be able to access cap and trade revenues as a backstop for 20+ billion in missing funding for its Initial Operating Section (IOS). Without a fully-funded IOS, opponents of the Central Valley project assert that the Authority cannot…

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Another Day, Another HSR Business Plan: First Impressions

Another Day, Another HSR Business Plan: First Impressions 04/02/12 Filed in: High-Speed Rail Yes, the High-Speed Rail Authority did listen to comments on the last Plan, and yes, they actually did add several desirable elements to the Plan, but in the end, it is still a bad joke: “The key initial operating segment from the Central Valley to the Los Angeles Basis is fully funded.” (p. 7-25) This seemingly good news is new since the last Business Plan. But the punchline is that the newly identified fund source is $20.2 billion from the feds! How fully funded is that, given the current Congress? The Governor claims he can use cap and trade…

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LA Times Covers HSR

LA Times Covers HSR 03/29/12 Filed in: High-Speed Rail The Los Angeles Times has given excellent coverage to questions about the legality of the HSRA’s Central Valley project. TRANSDEF’s David Schonbrunn was interviewed in this article about the Governor’s attempt to get other environmental groups to go easy on this project. Other HSR articles in the LA Times: A detailed look into whether the blended system would comply with Proposition 1A. Peter Calthorpe’s Vision California vs. right-wing defenders of the status quo. Tags: CEQA, Press

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Hospital Required to Mitigate GHGs

Hospital Required to Mitigate GHGs 03/28/12 Filed in: Climate Change TRANSDEF, along with fellow litigants the Sierra Club and the California Nurses Association, prevailed in a challenge to Sonoma County’s approval of a new Sutter Hospital on the fringe of Santa Rosa. They challenged the Environmental Impact Report as being inadequate in mitigating greenhouse gases, because of the site being totally auto-dependent. After several hearings and appearances before a judge, the County agreed to require Sutter Hospital to provide a shuttle to the hospital from the nearest SMART rail station. Sutter will also provide free bus and train passes to…

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TRANSDEF talks HSR on KPFA

TRANSDEF talks HSR on KPFA 03/19/12 Filed in: High-Speed Rail A lively interview on KPFA’s Morning Mix where TRANSDEF’s David Schonbrunn details what’s wrong with the HSR project, and how to fix it. The program runs 12:00. Tags: Press

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Reflections Following the Senate Hearing

Reflections Following the Senate Hearing 03/14/12 Filed in: High-Speed Rail I think TRANSDEF is onto something that no one else is stressing: Because of the way Proposition 1A, AB 3034, was written, there can be no project without private capital and/or a huge federal commitment. So far, the Authority has been allowed to frame the consideration of its plan, which makes it seem reasonable. Here’s why it is necessary to pull back and look at the bigger picture: The strictures of AB 3034 prohibit the very kind of incremental improvements that would be most sensible (and which are standard practice…

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TRANSDEF’s Testimony at Senate HSR Hearing

TRANSDEF’s Testimony at Senate HSR Hearing 03/13/12 Filed in: High-Speed Rail I’m David Schonbrunn of TRANSDEF. We’re transit advocates that have been litigating HSR EIRs for the past 5 years, and have been highly critical of the Authority’s route decisions, their engineering and their ridership modeling. We see the Authority slowly changing direction and heading in a more viable direction. We give great credit to the Peer Review Group for their courageous comments, which were instrumental in bringing that about. But we are more outspoken: we vigorously oppose the Central Valley project and urge you to not fund it. Many…

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Yet Another HSR DEIR

Yet Another HSR DEIR 02/21/12 Filed in: High-Speed Rail TRANSDEF, the Planning and Conservation League, the California Rail Foundation and the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail filed  comments on the Partially Revised Draft EIR today. This is the HSR Authority’s third attempt to come up with a legally defensible EIR for the Bay Area to Central Valley portion of the Statewide HSR project. TRANSDEF and its allies, which include the cities of Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto, successfully challenged the previous EIRs. These comments propose an entirely new Altamont route, based on the Altamont Corridor Rail Project Preliminary Alternatives Analysis Report. (See an earlier Newsletter for an overview of this exciting project.)…

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TRANSDEF Debates US HSR Association Head

TRANSDEF Debates US HSR Association Head 01/18/12 Filed in: High-Speed Rail The Voice of Russia Radio hosted an informal debate between Andy Kunz, President of the US High-Speed Rail Association and David Schonbrunn, President of TRANSDEF. The debate runs 6:00. Here is the introductory paragraph on the Voice of Russia website: In California, a project President Obama promised would transform US transportation may never be completed. The state’s futuristic high-speed rail network faces eroding political and public support, increasing cost estimates and criticism from some groups who call the project a “train to nowhere.” But supporters says a national high-speed…

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