High-speed rail

An artist's rendering of California's proposed high-speed rail project. (California High-Speed Rail Authority / March 27, 2013)

The California bullet-train project has collided with farmers, political conservatives and wealthy suburbanites who would like to see the $68-billion system killed. Now it is facing tough criticism from an unlikely quarter: within the ranks of high-speed rail's true believers.

Some longtime backers of the project are objecting to political compromises that they say undermine legal safeguards for the massive investment, notably a design that would move passengers between urban destinations faster than air travel, as well as requirements intended to prevent a half-built system.

Among those raising objections is a Bay Area high-speed rail trailblazer who for decades played a pivotal role in building public and political support for the system. Quentin Kopp chaired the state Senate transportation committee for years and co-wrote legislation that launched the bullet-train project. He later served as board chairman of the state agency overseeing construction of the system.

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