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Report Calls For Major Changes To High-Speed Rail Plans

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(credit: cahighspeedrail.ca.gov)

(credit: cahighspeedrail.ca.gov)

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SACRAMENTO (AP) — The state’s independent analyst on Tuesday called for major changes to California’s high-speed rail plans, including delaying the fast-tracked project and removing its oversight from an independent board.

The report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office found that the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s management was inadequate to guarantee that the rail’s first phase, which would link San Francisco and Anaheim, would be developed successfully.

The cost for that first phase was estimated in 2009 at $43 billion, but the report warned that estimates have risen. At the same time, it said, funding sources are uncertain and subject to political winds.

Uncertain funding, strings attached to the federal money already received, inadequate oversight and a lack of reliable information about the huge transportation system “pose threats to the high-speed rail project’s successful development,” according the report.

Analysts recommended that lawmakers slow down the project, which is supported with nearly $10 billion in voter-approved bonds, and shift operational and strategic oversight to the state Department of Transportation. The report called on lawmakers to reject $185 million in funding for project, which is scheduled to start construction next year.

The rail authority will review the recommendations and work with the Legislature to address its concerns, said Roelof van Ark, chief executive officer of the rail authority.

“I believe this project has been successful thus far because it has strived to operate more like a private business than a typical government bureaucracy,” he said in a statement.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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