Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich called Thursday’s decision by the California High Speed Rail Authority to recommit to an Antelope Valley alignment with a Palmdale station the most economically sensible for the future of the region.
“High speed rail alignment through the Antelope Valley will have significant economic benefits for the region and creates a vital transportation crossroads for the southern portion of the state,” Antonovich said in a news release. “Connecting high speed rail with the Palmdale Airport, the High Desert Corridor, a potential inland port and the DesertXpress connection to Las Vegas will have a multi-model junction for passenger travel and freight movement to proactively meet our future transportation needs.”
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Additionally, to address the high costs associated with high speed rail, Antonovich has proposed upgrading the extensive Metrolink/Amtrak rail system from Lancaster to San Diego to a 110-mile-per-hour system and connecting it to the rail system in the San Joaquin Valley.
“This hybrid system can be built using less money, in less time, and with greater benefits for the 60 percent of Californians who reside in the state’s southern counties,” Antonovich said. “This proposal will upgrade systems, make use of already-owned right-of-ways and protect communities facing the loss of homes, schools, businesses and farms.”
Antonovich’s proposal has been approved by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Southern California Association of Governments and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Meanwhile, the nearly $100 billion high speed rail network project is meeting increased opposition. On Tuesday, the independent California High Speed Rail Peer Review Group released a report stating it “cannot at this time recommend that the Legislature approve appropriation of bond proceeds for this project.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) urged Gov. Jerry Brown to transfer control of the high speed rail project to CalTrans, and Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) introduced legislation designed to derail funding (see separate story).
Thursday’s California High Speed Rail Authority board meeting was also marked by the resignation of CEO Roelof van Ark, and board chairman Thomas Umberg’s announcement that he will step down in February, but remain on the board.