A California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group report is highly skeptical of the agency's plans going forward. KQED's John Myers reports:
A panel of independent reviewers says that without more certainty on funding and operations, any start to construction of a high speed rail system "represents an immense financial risk to the state of California."
The new report is further proof that 2012 will be the most important year yet in the debate over the ambitious but costly bullet train system.
The report was issued Tuesday by the California High Speed Rail Peer Review Group, a panel of experts created by legislative action in 2008 to take an independent look at the ultimate plans crafted by the state's High Speed Rail Authority.
And while the group admits that it still doesn't have the information to render a final judgment, it doesn't seem to like what it's seen.
"Absent a clearer picture of where future funding is going to come from, the Peer Review Group cannot at this time recommend that the Legislature approve the appropriation of bond proceeds for this project," says the eight page report signed by panel chairman Will Kempton.
This is not the first time the group has questioned the high-speed rail agency's plans. In July, the peer review panel questioned the rail authority's ridership and revenue projections as unrealistic. Today's release adds to a growing archive of criticism leveled at the project, including several negative reports by the Legislative Analyst's Office.
Read today's full report below...