As the High-Speed Rail Debate Rages On, Stanford Historian Becomes Big Critic

Speaking of naysayers and critics, you may have to include the 59 percent of California voters who just told the Field Poll they’d now reject the nearly $10 billion high-speed rail bond packageapproved in 2008.

“If we’re going to run our government by Field Poll, then maybe we ought to just dismantle the legislature and run everything up the ballot any time we do anything,” Jim Earp, the chair of the bond measure’s campaign in 2008, told KQED’s John Myers. “We can either throw [all the money away] and do nothing, or do what we did back in the depression, and build something like the Golden Gate Bridge or the San Francisco Bay Bridge or Shasta Dam.”

Still, there are a lot of people who think the high-speed rail project is not only figuratively, but literallysomething that’s going nowhere fast. Adding fuel to their fire are a pair of reports critical of the project from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, most recently on November 29.

Another perhaps less-likely HSR pessimist is Richard White, the Pulitzer-Prize-nominated Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford, whose specialty is the American West and whose current book is Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America.

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