After months of revision and years of criticism, the embattled California High Speed Rail Authority Thursday signed off on its 2012 revised business plan at a Board meeting in San Francisco.
The plan, , will connect California’s major urbanized areas with new high-speed trains and upgraded existing rail systems. The total cost of the project was lowered from previous estimates to $68.4 billion, but still twice the original projected cost.
"I am pleased to announce today that the High-Speed Rail Authority has taken a huge step forward toward making a coordinated statewide transportation network a viable reality," said Authority Board Chair Dan Richard, who about the authority's plans.
The plan was adopted with a new amendment requiring the Authority to try to find an affordable way to extend the rail line to Anaheim, as had originally been planned.
The amendment also requires the Southern California Passenger Rail Planning Coalition to look at a scaled-down alternative to that extentsion—one that would "cost less and be less intrusive than a full-build connection enabling a one-seat ride to Anaheim," according to an Authority statement released Thursday afternoon.
"We now stand poised to have an operational high-speed passenger rail system within ten years," said Board Member Mike Rossi. "By working with community leaders throughout the state we will begin construction soon on a smarter, more cost-effective transportation option for all Californians that reflects the direction mandated by voters in 2008 with the passage of Proposition 1A."
Also Thursday, the Board signed off on a Memorandum of Understanding with transportation agencies in Southern and Northern California, including Caltrain, whose system will be . The Mountain View Caltrain station on the commuter rail.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee attended the meeting and spoke out favorably afterward.
"I hope to see, in the near future, trains pulling through all the way from Los Angeles to the Central Valley, through Silicon Valley to San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal, which we believe to be the Grand Central Station of the West," said Lee.
“I appreciate that High-Speed Rail embraced the proposal for a blended system that Peninsula elected officials, namely Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, State Sen. Joe Simitian and Assemblyman Rich Gordon called for a year ago,” said Adrienne Tissier, who chairs the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrain and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.