UPDATED To keep California's increasingly beleaguered bullet train program alive, move it to the state DOT.
That's the recommendation of Senator Dianne Feinstein, who sent a letter Monday to California Governor Jerry Brown urging him to combine the state's High-Speed Rail Authority with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
Senator Feinstein, a long-time supporter of high-speed rail, urged quick action by Governor Brown to avoid losing $3.5 billion in federal funds for the project.
Here comments came as Orange County Assemblywoman Diane Harkey introduced a bill to halt state debt funding for the high-speed rail project.
Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, today joined fellow Republican lawmakers in introducing legislation to halt state debt funding for the high-speed rail project.
"The verdict is clear, it’s time for California to move forward and de-rail this ill-conceived project," Harkey said in a statement. " Lack of future federal funding, oversight, accountability and inconsistency in route and planning, should sound a strong signal to pull the plug,” said Assemblywoman Harkey. "This one project has the potential to double our state's debt and become a huge future drain on our state's budget, while our existing rail and roadway infrastructure is in dire need of repair.”
In her letter, Senator Feinstein said she found it hard to “debunk” the conclusions of a report issued last week by a state appointed peer review committee that recommended against the release of state funds for the project.
However, Senator Feinstein said that combining the High-Speed Rail Authority with Caltrans would go a long way in addressing some of the concerns of the peer review committee. “I am concerned that our state’s future would be greatly hindered if this project either failed to get off the ground, or failed to be completed."
Interestingly, she continues: "I have spoken to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about the importance of utilizing CalTrans’ expertise, and we both agree that your leadership in this area could improve prospects for success.”
The governor’s newly released 2012-2013 budget proposal calls for the creation of a new transportation agency that would consolidate a number of state departments and agencies, including Caltrans and the Rail Authority.