Let’s Talk About California’s “High-Speed” Rail

Guest: Quentin Kopp

California has problems. After years of drought, last year’s deluge caused the Oroville Dam to burst, costing nearly $1 billion. Meanwhile, the welfare rolls are swelling, and the millionaires on whom the state depends for its tax revenues are leaving the state in droves. This would seem to be a time to get back to basics, but proponents of the high-speed rail are plowing ahead with the project despite delays, lawsuits, and cost overruns. The original bond measure — Proposition 1A — passed in 2008, with a slim majority of Californians voting for a state of the art, 220mph, electrified train from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It was to be partly funded by taxpayer money, and partly by private investment. Now, the project has morphed into a patchwork of conventional and high-speed rail, and encountered serious issues at the earliest, and allegedly easiest, stages of construction. There are now big questions for those private investors, who were supposed to emerge to foot the remainder of the bill for what is no longer the high-speed project it was supposed to be. For these reasons and more, one of the proposition’s original most ardent advocates — Judge Quentin Kopp — has turned on the idea. In fact, he now says it’s “almost a crime.” Kopp is a retired judge and former Chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority. He served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and in the California State Senate and joins the show to explain how the high-speed rail has gotten so far off track.