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Caltrans Folly

October 26, 1986

Caltrans has shot itself in the foot. Again.

As disclosed in The Times on Oct. 1, ("Transit Officials Hit Rail Car Deal") Caltrans sold, for a pittance, 46 passenger rail cars that will soon be needed on the planned expansion of rail service between San Diego and Los Angeles.

The cars were retired from Caltrans' San Francisco Peninsula line. For no more than $25 million, they could be totally refurbished for the San Diego-Los Angeles line. Instead, new cars will cost about $60 million. That's a difference of $35 million, less the paltry $750,000 Caltrans got for the cars from a Seattle tour operator.

Now the incredible part: A Caltrans executive heads the board overseeing plans for the new San Diego-Los Angeles service!

Don't those people ever talk to each other up there in Sacramento?

Or is this just further evidence that the governor's cabinet member who rules Caltrans, John Geohagen, thinks his only mission is to pave the state with concrete freeways?

Those of us who struggle through the traffic and smog to Los Angeles on Interstate 5 might wish that Geohagen be condemned to traveling this route daily. He then might understand why more and better rail service is absolutely needed.

CHUCK NEWTON

Del Mar

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