SACRAMENTO -- State lawmakers will have their first opportunity to quiz the officials responsible for California's $64 billion high-speed rail plan at a committee hearing Monday to review a new business plan that calls for overhauling its proposed route and postponing the first service by three years.
Those overseeing the project are expected to face tough questions about the plan to shift construction to the Bay Area rather than head first to Southern California, an acknowledgement of the financial and political challenges that have plagued the project.
The new plan calls for building the first 250-mile segment from the rural town of Shafter to San Jose at a cost of nearly $21 billion. The first leg would begin operating in 2025 — three years later and 50 miles shorter than the original planned route that would have sent trains to the San Fernando Valley.
Project backers are touting it as the first plan to build a fully operable line using only available funding. But a briefing prepared for lawmakers ahead of Monday's meeting notes: "The funding outlined by the authority is far from guaranteed and associated risks remain high."