Voters Turn Against California’s ‘Bullet Train to Nowhere’

A new poll shows California voters are experiencing buyers’ remorse over a proposed $68 billion bullet train project, as the number of lawsuits against the rail system grows.

California voters are experiencing buyers' remorse over a $68.4 billion (£44.4 billion) high speed rail project which critics say risks becoming a "bullet train to nowhere." Photo: California High-Speed Rail Authority

Fifty-five per cent of voters want to see the high-speed rail bond issue that was approved in 2008 back on the ballot, and 59 per cent say they would now vote against it, Daily Mail writes, according to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times survey published Saturday.

The plan for a fast track linking Los Angeles and San Francisco at speeds of up to 220mph calls for around 300 miles of track to be laid south from there over the next 10 years to reach the northern outskirts of Los Angeles.

According to The Telegraph, a northern link from the Central Valley to San Francisco would not be completed until 2028.

Powerful agriculture groups and freight railroads maintain that proposed routes would damage their interests and compromise safety. Schools, churches, businesses and homeowners are also opposed to the project.

‘We think a preliminary injunction against construction will occur because there were so many violations in the authority’s environmental impact report,’ Anja Raudabaugh, executive director of the Madera County Farm Bureau, said.

The project is still $54.9 billion short of what is needed, causing fears that the state will be unable to find the funds to finish later sections, and could be left with a futuristic rail line linking minor cities and farming communities.

According to a new poll, almost three fifths would oppose the bullet train and halt public borrowing if given another chance to vote.

About seven in 10 said that, if the train ever does run between Los Angeles and San Francisco, they would “never or hardly ever” use it.

With legal challenges to the California bullet train mounting, Gov. Jerry Brown, 74-year-old Democrat, began circulating on Monday proposed legislation designed to significantly diminish the possibility that opponents could stop the project with an environmental lawsuit, writes Los Angeles Times.

Governor’s office sent the proposal to a group of powerful environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Planning Conservation League and the Natural Resources Defense Council, in hope to win their support for the special legal protection.

Brown allocated some of the $9.95 billion of bonds for the system in his budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, even though a deficit in the spending plan has ballooned to $15.7 billion, according to Bloomberg.

The governor wants voters to increase sales and income taxes or slash 3 weeks off the school year while still spending money on the rail line.

Jim Nielsen, the Republican vice chairman of the state’s Assembly Budget Committee, who opposes the project, called it “an idea that gets worse the more information we get about it.”

In April the state’s own Legislative Analyst’s Office called the funding plan vague and speculative.

“California voters have clearly reconsidered their support for high-speed rail,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at University of Southern California.

He added: “They want the chance to vote again -— and they want to vote no. The growing budget deficit is making Californians hesitant about spending so much money on a project like this one when they’re seeing cuts to public education and law enforcement.”

“There is a good deal of skepticism even among groups who want to support the high-speed rail,” said Bruce Reznik, executive director of the Planning Conservation League.

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