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Posts Tagged ‘Kopp’

Like a lot of news stories, the LA Weekly describes CHSRA Board Member Dan Richard as the smartest guy in the room:

In August, Gov. Jerry Brown set out to inject some honesty into the debate over the cost and business plan for the vast public works project — for which taxpayers are on the hook. He appointed two nonpoliticos, who also are free of longtime insider ties to big labor: rail expert Dan Richard and financial guru/banker Michael Rossi.

Richard’s “expertise” stems from his tenure on the BART Board (an elected position, making him anything but a “non-politico”). His main accomplishment during that time was the BART extension to the SFO airport. In fact, his bio on CHSRA web page boasts about this project.

As most readers know, the BART-SFO project went 100% over cost projections. And the ridership has been so dismal, it blew a huge fiscal hole in SamTrans finances. In any other circumstance, that project would have disqualified Richard from serving on a transit agency board. In assbackwards California, the opposite is true: failure is rewarded with responsibility over even larger mega-projects.

Speaking of BART-SFO, Quentin Kopp was recently interviewed on KQED public radio and had this to say:

Real high-speed rail, you get on in one place, you get off in another. Making people transfer from one train to another in my opinion is a sure recipe for discouraging ridership. That’s why I fought to have BART into SFO, not a mile and a half away, and that’s proved to be the most successful part of the entire BART system.

And when you read this quote, you have to wonder why nobody at KQED (or any other media outlet) ever looks up the BART-SFO numbers and asks, “Hey, is it a good idea to put these guys in charge of a $100 billion project?”

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Learning on the Job

The CHSRA Board selected the first 65-mile segment to build for its high-speed rail project. I was struck by this comment from project manager Hans Van Winkle:

Van Winkle described the section as a good mix of rural and urban space that will let engineers who have never built high-speed rail develop a “learning curve” on how to proceed with the rest of the project, “to allow us to get up to speed very, very quickly,” he explained. “Nobody in the United States has built high-speed rail before … this is not a short-term project,” he said. “We’re going to be here a long time.”

This comment confirms what critics have been saying all along — that this is a project being done by amateurs.

It also contradicts a talking point from Board Member Quentin Kopp:

TREFNY: How can you make sure when you’re projecting costs and ridership, which are two of the big things in question, when you’re projecting 20 years down the line, how can you be sure that your estimate is as good as it can possibly be?

KOPP: By the quality of the engineers and the cost experts and the ridership experts who supply the data for those estimates. You get the best possible firms and the best possible people that you can. I’m satisfied that the High-Speed Rail Authority has obtained the services of the best experts in terms of ridership forecasts and in terms of construction costs and engineering and design costs.

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