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Resignations Further Set Back California High-Speed Rail Project

Plans for a high-speed rail to span across the state of California, which has already endured much debate and criticism, is facing another setback.  Both the Chief Executive Officer, Roelof van Ark, as well as the board chairman of the project, Tom Umberg, stepped down from their positions Thursday.  Dan Richard, Governor Jerry Brown’s adviser to rail authority, has been selected to fill the vacated roles.

This added debacle only increases doubts about the success of the rail project.  A peer-review panel conducted last week advised legislators to call off the high-speed rail construction.  The panel said Governor Brown’s expected request for the first installment of about $3 billion worth of bonds should not be accepted.  Overall, the original cost estimate accepted by voters was $33 billion, but the costs have tripled to $99 billion.

The appointment of Dan Richard, who is favored by Governor Brown, shows that the Governor has no plans of ending the project.  Because of these difficulties with voter skepticism and departing advisors, Brown will need to take a different path to make the plan successful.  Although the CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, Joshua Schank, still has hope for the project’s completion, telling Business Week, “Governor Brown is sticking behind this thing even in the face of a lot of challenges and putting himself in the position where he’s going to be defined by this.  That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be turned around.”

      

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