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Auditor slams management of $43B California high-speed rail project, urges overhaul

(The following story by Greenwire appeared on the New York Times website on May 11, 2011.)

NEW YORK — California's legislative auditor is calling for an overhaul of how the state manages its nascent high-speed rail line, saying the mega project is unlikely to succeed unless the state Legislature intervenes with major changes.

Legislative analyst Mac Taylor said in a report released yesterday that initial management decisions related to the $43 billion project "pose threats" to the rail line's successful development because of uncertainty associated with federal funds, a weak oversight board, over-reliance on outside consultants and what amounts to a bad deal with the Federal Rail Administration.

The report's author, Eric Thronson, who works in the Legislative Analyst's Office, urged the Legislature to replace the High Speed Rail Authority with a new arm of the California Department of Transportation as well as renegotiate the terms of $3.6 million in federal funds already committed to the project.

The report also recommends delaying initial work on the line in the Central Valley to revisit where the proposed 800-mile, north-to-south rail line should start. It says the decision to build the first leg in an area where no riders would ride the train initially, rather than in Los Angeles or the Bay Area where the first section could be used faster, should be re-examined.

Full story: New York Times

Thursday, May 12, 2011

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