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Rep. Sanchez 'quite disappointed' Anaheim cut from bullet train plan

April 9, 2012 | 12:04 pm

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, the Orange County Democrat who has strongly backed the Obama administration’s high-speed rail agenda, said Monday that she is “quite disappointed” by the California bullet train authority’s decision to drop Anaheim out of the $68-billion plan.

“Although I was pleased to learn that high-speed rail officials were making necessary revisions to ensure the completion of the CA High Speed Rail Project, something I have strongly advocated for — I was quite disappointed with the authority’s recent decision to terminate the high-speed rail line to Anaheim, which is home to a thriving business corridor and to our state’s largest tourist attractions,” said Sanchez of Garden Grove.

“Failure to link the high-speed rail system to Orange County negatively impacts the county's residents and our local economy, and is a disappointment for the state of California.  To develop our state for the 21st century, we must embrace a transportation system that allows our commerce to run.”

The decision by the authority, first reported by The Times on Friday, reflects the lukewarm support the project has received among Republican lawmakers from the county and some local government agencies, including the Orange County Transportation Authority.  The authority has declined so far to endorse a memorandum of understanding that calls for blending bullet trains into the existing Southern California commuter rail network.

Under the rail authority’s business plan that was issued last week, high-speed trains would go only as far south as Union Station in Los Angeles. Passengers could reach Anaheim on existing Metrolink or Amtrak trains.

Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said dropping the Anaheim link saved $6 billion and would have only cut 10 minutes from the travel time on existing Metrolink rail service between Anaheim and Union Station. But critics say the decision not only adds 10 minutes to the travel time but forces future passengers to transfer trains at Union Station, therefore adding much more than 10 minutes to a journey from Northern California to Orange County.

“With the development of the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), Orange County is well positioned to welcome high-speed rail,” Sanchez added. “Blending Metrolink and Amtrak lines from Los Angeles to Anaheim will take away a fundamental opportunity to boost Southern California's economy. As the High-Speed Rail Authority moves forward into the next phase of the project, I hope they will take these factors into consideration, and I also hope they honor the mandates put forward by the California State Legislature and continue with the original plan of bringing high-speed rail to Orange County.”

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-- Ralph Vartabedian

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