The panel concludes that the plan to start building a $6-billion initial segment of the project in the Central Valley without any assurance of additional federal funding for many years is not sound. It cites a lack of clarity in the business plan that was unveiled in November.
While the panel supports the concept of high-speed rail, it believes the best action now is to take a timeout on the project and reevaluate the overall goals, routes, financing and phasing of the effort, members of the panel said.
In an interview in late December, Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), chairman of the budget subcommittee for transportation, said he also believed that a one-year delay in the project would allow time to reexamine and refine exactly what the state wants to do.
There are any number of reasons why high-speed rail in California (if it's viable at all) should have been pursued through the private sector instead of the public. The main one? No private investors in their right mind would have sank $10 billion (the amount approved by California voters) into a moonshot concept where the builders were unencumbered by knowing "exactly what they want to do."