High Speed Rail

A full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train is displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento last year. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Ralph Vartabedian
April 18, 2016

A key state legislative committee on Monday unanimously approved a Republican-led bill to strengthen oversight of the California bullet train, a sign of growing bipartisan concern about the project.

The bill, which would set new reporting requirements for the $64-billion bullet train project, was approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee. Until the last six months, the Democrat-controlled Legislature largely had kept its hands off the project, which enjoys strong support from Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration.

But a series of recent hearings and a key report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office have intensified questions about the project’s cost, schedule and scope.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s recent decision to abandon starting an initial segment in Burbank and switch to a lower-cost segment in San Jose also has caught the attention of legislators, who say the change is worrisome.

The bill, AB 2847, adopts two key recommendations by the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The measure would require the rail authority to provide detailed cost, schedule and scope information about each segment and to disclose how each of those segments would be financed.

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), who said the project was rushing ahead without a sustainable plan that would ensure completion by the scheduled 2029 start-up for trains from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

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