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California high-speed rail planners revive Grapevine route

(The following appeared on the Los Angeles Times website on May 6, 2011.)

LOS ANGELES — In a surprising and controversial move, California bullet train planners on Thursday revived a long-discarded route option following Interstate 5 over the Grapevine that could save billions of dollars and eliminate a sweeping dogleg through Los Angeles County's high desert towns.

The sudden reversal comes after years of planning focused on a circuitous path south of Bakersfield crossing the Tehachapi Mountains to serve Palmdale and Lancaster.

Reopening what had been a settled issue highlights a critical tension in one of the nation's costliest transportation projects: As officials rush to start building, they still have not resolved an array of political, financing and engineering challenges.

Thursday's vote by the California High-Speed Rail Authority board ignited new political conflicts for an agency struggling to scrape together billions needed to complete the first 500-mile leg of the voter-approved system between the Bay Area and downtown Los Angeles' Union Station.

Full story: www.latimes.com

Friday, May 6, 2011

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