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Letters: Why did California say non to France?

July 11, 2012

Re "French offer of bullet train help rebuffed," July 9

Your story was too kind to the California High-Speed Rail Authority. At the time of its proposal, the French national railway SNCF had the investment backing to actually build the L.A.-San Francisco line. The authority's 2012 business plan instead insisted that those with private capital would be unwilling to invest until the high-speed line showed a profit.

The Central Valley project approved last week by the Legislature thus exposes the state to unlimited operating losses. Worse yet, before that line can be completed, it will need an additional $27 billion from the federal government — quite unlikely in today's political climate. I'd sure like to understand the thinking behind the rejection of the French offer.

David Schonbrunn

San Rafael, Calif.

The writer is president of the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund.

I am a train buff. Some of my greatest memories are of crossing the continent from Chicago to Los Angeles on the Santa Fe Super Chief and Union Pacific's City of Los Angeles.

When the plan for a bullet train was announced, I was a quiet cheerleader. But realities, positive and negative, have caused me to shudder at the prospect. The route looks more like a cunning gerrymander than an arrow to the future. As I watch the shenanigans and power plays taking place, my enthusiasm wilts.

That we need to spend megabucks on our infrastructure cannot be denied, and I am willing to pay higher taxes for the greater good. But is the current plan a path to prosperity or a boondoggle? Wouldn't a rail line along Interstate 5 with relatively short spurs to larger cities be saner?

Shel Weisbach

Chatsworth

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