White House honors California high-speed rail leader for innovation
Although polls have shown that a majority of California voters have soured on the state’s bullet-train project, there is at least one place where it still has overwhelming political support: the White House.
On Tuesday, President Obama, whose high-speed-rail initiative has come off the tracks in several parts of the country, named Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, a “Transportation Innovator Champion of Change.”
The "Champions of Change" program was created as part of the Obama administration’s "Winning the Future" initiative. Each week, a different endeavor from education to business is highlighted and honors are bestowed upon individuals or organizations that have made substantial contributions to their communities.
“Today’s champions are leaders in developing and implementing innovative transportation initiatives,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “They are making a difference every day in their local communities and across the country by improving America’s transportation infrastructure.”
Though support from the public has dwindled and the project faces substantial financial and legal challenges, Gov. Brown has credited Richard with reenergizing the high-speed rail program and helping to persuade the Legislature to authorize bond funding for the first phase of the line. Construction might begin in the Central Valley at the end of this year.
— Dan Weikel