Anaheim Bounced to Back of High-Speed Rail Line

Anaheim has been dropped from plans for initial construction of the proposed $43 billion California high-speed rail project, the state’s High Speed Rail Authority announced Thursday.

City and county officials had hoped for the top spot when workers began laying track for the first section of the project, scheduled to begin in 2012. The city also plans to expand its planned new rail station, known as ARTIC, to handle high-speed rail.

Instead, ground will first be broken in the Central Valley, either in the segment between Merced and Fresno or the leg between Fresno and Bakersfield, according to the announcement.

Eventually, the planned 800-mile system will stretch from Anaheim to San Francisco, but today’s announcement said a letter from Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo cites a federal requirement that “all federal funds” must initially go to the Central Valley.

In other action, during a hearing of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, High Speed Rail Authority Chief Executive Roelof Van Ark introduced the rail system’s new project manager, former Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Hans Van Winkle.

Van Winkle is a vice president of Parsons Brinckerhoff, the main contractor overseeing the high-speed rail project.

When he was with the Corps of Engineers, Van Winkle was assigned to Iraq in the early years of the war. He was criticized in 2005, after he retired, during a U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee Oversight Hearing on whether the Corps of Engineers retaliated against whistleblowers who objected to Iraq contracting abuses.

Bunnatine Greenhouse, a former high-level civilian contracting officer for the Corps of Engineers testified that when Van Winkle and another general were put in charge, he was part of a “good old boys” contracting network.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Han Van Winkle’s status with Parsons Brinckerhoff.