Friday, October 1, 2010 | The Anaheim City Council approved the environmental-impact report for its massive transportation hub this week, but as it stands, the proposed building can't handle the high-speed trains that are supposed to stop there.
The planned $180 million Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) near Angel Stadium, the way it currently is designed, can handle only regular trains, buses and taxis and cannot be expanded to accommodate high-speed rail, according to documents filed earlier this year with the state.
Anaheim is supposed to be the southern-most stop of the first phase of California's planned $43 billion high-speed rail project that voters approved in 2008. The project would link Southern California to San Francisco with trains capable of hitting 220 mph.
State taxpayers are putting up $9 billion for initial work on the project, and an additional $2.5 billion for the program came via federal stimulus funds. The remainder of the $43 billion is supposed to come from federal funds and private investment.
The high-speed rail program, from the get-go, has been plagued by leadership and financial issues. A highly critical state audit released in April said New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, the firm charged with overall management of the project, did not properly account for millions of dollars in costs and made tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized purchases.
A UC Berkeley study of the rail authority's ridership estimates determined they were unreliable, a critical issue because the 2008 ballot initiative requires that revenue from the finished train system pay for its ongoing operations.
Most recently, separate letters from the state Attorney General's Office and the state Legislature's legal adviser questioned the legality of two of the rail board's nine members continuing to serve because of potential conflicts of interest.
Last spring, the state's High Speed Rail Authority, chaired by Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, was asked to kick in $200 million to build a 95,000 square-foot addition to the ARTIC terminal that could accommodate the high-speed trains.
The idea behind the request was that the $200 million would come from the $9 billion in state money approved by voters in 2008.
The money is needed, according to the city's application to the rail authority, because the current design "is not an expandable structure, and all program space needs to be accounted for in the initial design so as not to preclude services being provided in the future."
And in recent months the approval process for the $200 million suddenly stalled, and neither the city nor the Rail Authority seems to know what will happen next. City officials referred a reporter to the Rail Authority, and rail officials referred a reporter back to the city.
"I suggest you contact the City of Anaheim regarding this question as I don't have any new information on this," a High Speed Rail spokesperson said in a July email in response to questions about who will provide the $200 million to upgrade the planned station.
"Because it pertains to HSR planning, that is a question for HSR," responded a city spokesperson.
Orange County taxpayers, through Measure M funds allocated by the Orange County Transportation Authority, are responsible for most of the $183 million cost of ARTIC as it is currently planned.
And the Orange County Transportation Authority, where Pringle is a director, is putting up 13.5 acres south of Katella Avenue between the 57 Freeway and the Santa Ana River to house the new station. Anaheim is contributing 2.2 acres.
OCTA officials couldn't immediately say whether the agency has been asked to pay all or part of the additional $200 million to upgrade the planned station.
The Anaheim-to-Los Angeles leg is scheduled for completion in about 2018. The full statewide route is expected to be completed by 2035.
The Anaheim City Council vote to approve the environmental-impact report for the terminal was unanimous. Anaheim plans to have its terminal under construction next year and construction on the first section of the statewide rail line is supposed to begin in 2012.