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McLean asks for rail dollars to be kept in California

Posted: August 11, 2011 9:30 a.m.
Updated: August 11, 2011 9:30 a.m.

Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean wants to fix the state’s existing trains and railways with money already allocated for high-speed rail.

This week, she asked Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, whom she should talk to in Washington to get $5 billion allocated to the California High Speed Rail Authority diverted to repair existing train tracks.

“There’s talk going around about the $5 billion that have been allocated to the high-speed rail authority to build some tracks in the Central Valley — not to put a train on them, but just simply to build the tracks — and they’re on a fast line to do that,” she told Mckeon, a guest speaker at a Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce committee meeting on Tuesday.

“Since that money is already sitting in their account and it’s already allocated, what we’re trying to do is bring attention to the federal government about taking that money ... and using it to upgrade existing Metrolink and rail throughout California.”
McKeon asked McLean to put her concerns in a note and promised to get some answers for her.

The congressman hinted that there are many changes looming for the high-speed rail plan.

“I’ve had people call me scared to death about a high-speed rail going through,” he told McLean and the chamber committee.

McKeon chuckled a little, then said: “We’ve never been able to widen the road, so I don’t know how they’re going to put in a high-speed rail.”

McLean, who sits on a number of transportation committees, told him: “They’re taking the money and spending it on ridiculous stuff instead of on concrete things.”

McLean voiced concerns over the authority’s spending record on the same day state lawmakers voiced similar concerns in Sacramento.

On Tuesday, lawmakers who have supported California’s ambitious high-speed rail project questioned whether the state can afford it after a recent report showed sharply higher cost estimates to build the first segment.

Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, who has backed the system in the past said the state should consider returning $3.5 billion in federal grants and halting the project unless the authority lays out a clear path to finance, build and operate the system without leaving the state’s taxpayers on the hook for unexpected cost overruns.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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