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Office of Darrell Steinberg

The leader of California’s  Senate is issuing words of caution on Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to use money from the state’s cap-and-trade program to help pay for construction of high speed rail.  

Speaking with Valley Public Radio, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says he’s concerned about the rail authority’s plan to finance construction of the next stage of the bullet train, which would go from Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale in Southern California.

Brown's Budget Proposal Spends Cap and Trade Money

Jan 9, 2014
California High Speed Rail Authority

California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal includes some major investments in the environment. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it lays out how he wants to spend $850 million in revenue from the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program known as cap-and-trade.

As expected, Governor Brown wants to invest a large portion of money raised from carbon auctions on High Speed Rail. The proposal includes $300 million for construction and integration of the rail system that he’s pitched as an environmentally-friendly alternative to cars.

California High Speed Rail Authority

California’s $68 billion high speed rail project ran into a rough stretch of track late last year, with judge ruling that the project has failed to comply with financing and environmental review requirements in 2008's voter-approved  Proposition 1A. While those rulings and a separate lawsuit about the sale of $8.6 billion in bonds, didn't stop work on the project, they did cast serious doubt about how the rail authority plans to move forward.

Judge Blocks California High Speed Rail Financing

Nov 25, 2013
Credit California High Speed Rail Authority / File Photo

 California’s High Speed Rail project may have stalled out in court. A judge ruled today the Rail Authority cannot sell $8 billion in bonds to help fund the project.

The judge also ordered the Authority to rewrite its $68 billion funding plan before moving forward with construction.

Jon Coupal is with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which opposes the project.

Kings County High Speed Rail Route Draws Opposition

Nov 8, 2013
California High-Speed Rail Authority

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is pushing forward with plans for its Fresno to Bakersfield segment. The board accepted a proposed route at a meeting Thursday. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, it’s been a rough ride.

The High-Speed Rail Authority has voted to support a route that goes through eastern Kings County. Board members say it will have less environmental impact than an alternate path.

But Ross Browning, who lives in Kings County says the high speed rail project will be devastating to local agriculture. 

CSU Bakersfield

Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk held court Wednesday night before a packed crowd at Cal State University Bakersfield's Doré Theatre, in the college's new guest lecture series.

The founder of PayPal, and the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, and chairman of SolarCity delivered a free ranging talk that covered everything from travel to Mars to high speed rail. 

Musk criticized the state's high speed rail plan, saying that it isn't "cool." Musk:

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Generations of Fresno residents have heard stories about the mysterious underground world of Fresno's 19th century Chinatown. Was it a world of illicit activity, with a network of subterranean tunnels? Archeologists with the state's high speed rail authority are hoping to shed some new light on this dark and forgotten part of Fresno's history. 

Last week archeologists gathered in Fresno’s historic Chinatown to sift through soil with a hope of unearthing century-old artifacts just yards from the future bullet train.

Amtrak

I’m not a big fan of trains, but my oldest son, Ben, 4, loves them. He’d been lobbying to go on a “big train trip,” and his school would be closed for a couple days at the end of September, when I had a meeting in Sacramento. Why not take the kid on a train trip from L.A. to the state capital, by Amtrak?

High-Speed Rail CEO: No Construction Yet, But Work "Under Way"

Oct 17, 2013
California High Speed Rail Authority

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority is asking contractors that want to build the second stretch of Central Valley track to step forward.  It also says work on the project’s first phase is “under way.”  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, actual construction has not yet begun – despite promises that it would by now.

California Public Utilities Commission Authorizes Ride Sharing Networks

Sep 20, 2013
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

The state of California is putting its stamp of approval on high-tech ride sharing networks. The state Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the increasingly popular peer-to-peer networks, but with some very specific requirements. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

More and more people needing rides these days are clicking smart phone apps to arrange them with local networks. John Zimmer, co-founder of San Francisco-based Lyft, says the networks will now have state endorsed vehicles and drivers.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited Fresno today to formally announce the city's award of a grant for $16 million to transform a part of downtown. FM89's Joe Moore has this report. 

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Today's event on the Fulton Mall wasn't the first time a Fresno mayor called for the six-block-long pedestrian plaza to be restored to vehicle traffic. But unlike efforts in decades past, this time the city apparently has the money to do it, thanks to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. 

City of Fresno

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today that it will provide $16 million to help the City of Fresno bring automobile traffic back to downtown’s Fulton Mall.

The city says the $20 million project will help boost business in the struggling area by removing a nearly fifty-year-old pedestrian mall which occupies what was once Fresno’s main commercial street.

In a press release, DOT officials wrote that the project will:

Elon Musk

It's an ambitious project that would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles with a high speed transportation system running through the San Joaquin Valley. But it's not California's planned high speed train system. Instead it's called the Hyperloop -  the latest concept from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Flickr user http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/ / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

A riddle. If you land at a big-city airport and there’s no train there, where are you?

Answer: California.

Yes, San Francisco, I know you’re the exception, with a BART train stop inside San Francisco International Airport (SFO). But the California rule is that we’ll invest billions in our airports and billions in our trains, but we wouldn’t dream of directly connecting the two.

Instead, we taunt those who dare to dream.

Safety Rules for Limos May Be Tightened

Jul 29, 2013

A fatal limo fire in Northern California has brought about new state legislation aimed at improving limousine safety.

The fire occurred last May. It claimed the lives of five women heading to a bridal shower. The women could not escape because the limo did not have emergency exits.

Under one bill all limos would be required to have exit features such as rear doors and pop-out windows. A separate bill would require limos to carry fire extinguishers in both the passenger and driver areas.

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