Silicon Valley sounds off on high-speed California rail in public meeting

California High Speed Rail Authority

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California’s high-speed rail project pulls into Silicon Valley tonight. That’s where lawmakers, experts and future passengers will get their chance to weigh in on the $98 billion bullet train proposal.

Three state senators have booked a 600-seat auditorium in Mountain View in anticipation of a big turnout. About 100 supporters of high-speed rail — labor leaders who like the jobs it could generate — have said they’ll rally before the meeting.

The Rail Authority’s new chair, Dan Richard, is expected to kick off the hearing with a sneak peak of the final business plan for the bullet train. It’s due out within three weeks.

Critics will also testify, like former Caltrans Chief Will Kempton. He heads a rail peer review group, and he wants lawmakers to refuse a request for nearly $3 billion in bond funds to pay for the first leg of the bullet train network.

Also on the docket: economists from the Legislative Analyst's Office who’ll explain why they think California should slow down rail and find a better way to pay for it.

Then, the public will get their chance — and the hearing could go well past midnight.