left, Joe Kellejian, Mayor, City of Solana Beach and recipient of many
civic awards including one from Amtrak.. In her introduction of Mayor
Kellejian, Karen King heaped praise on him saying Kellejian's mantra
was "just get to construciton." Mayor Kellejian started by saying
"What a great day? What a great day?" He stated how he
loves trains. He is most proud of "being the champion of the
Sprinter." He mentioned how the regional transit plan had all the
pieces fitting together in transit solutions. "Transit, highway,
local streets and roads." They "did a lot with the local cities
and it was all worthwhile." He shared an anecdote of an up and
coming SANDAG staff member who seemed against the Sprinter project,
who, ironically wanted to put the project off; wanted to eliminate the
loop. That person, someone named Jack (Feller?) gave Mr.
Kellejian a shirt with printing that said 54 on the front and 45 on the
back. "It has been hard work, working on this project."
Apparently the 54 and 45 represent the vote of the San Diego Board of
Supervisors changing against and for. However, the project is
installed and about to begin revenue service.
Lower right, Chris
Orlando, the newest NCTD Board Member. Karen King mentioned him
as one of the newest members of the NCTD Board.
Lower left, Jim Wood, Mayor, City of
Oceanside. He was honored to be speaking and thanked everyone
without naming them. He had invited the Major General from Camp
Pendleton Mayor Wood mentioned Oceanside being a train town with
"the freight lines, Amtrak, Metrolinik, Sprinter and Coaster." He
has hopes for increased economic development and quality of life issues
for all the cities in the North County as a result of the Sprinter.
Lower right, Hal Martin, Councilman, City of San Marcos. He
stated how "city councils come and city councils go" and how the face
of a city council changes and that the present city council is a
supporter of the Sprinter. He revisied Jerome Stocks comment that
the Sprinter is for the future.
Lower left, Bill Horn, Supervisor,
5th District, County of San Diego. Supervisor Horn stated how he
"lived through all these (NCTD) chairmen. He thanked Don Bullock,
Sprinter project manager who came before the San Diego Board of
Supervisors with updates. "5 to 10 years from now, you'll be glad
it's here." Horn pointed out how he did not see any surfboard
racks on the trains and that the traffic would be to the coast during
the summer. He lamented how the State government" has taken 6 billion dollars out of transportation in the last 5 years
and not paid it back." Ther was also mention of how one state
government agency sued another government agency in a "fine driven
budgeted government agency" trying to collect $175,000 on an act of god
for a flooded road. "I am glad the project is finally done.
It's a very quality project. We will make sure these trains are
safe before you get to get on them and ride back and forth. I
think this is going to be a backbone of North County for the
future." In a humble moment, Supervisor Horn admitted "I am
living proof that you can change your mind for the better."
Lower right, Leslie Rogers, Region
IX Administrator, Federal Transportation Administration. Mr.
Rogers, covers the 9 Western States for the Federal Transportation
Administration. In her introduction, Director King
stated that Mr. Rogers has attended more mass transit openings than any
other administrator. In one of his opening remarks, Mr. Rogers
said when you're the thirteenth speaker on the program ...everything's
been said, but not everyone has said it yet." "You're making me
feel right at home. My office is in San Francisco and it's almost
as chilly here today in San Diego as it was when I left San Francisco
this morning." The sun was attempting to shine through, which
Mr. Rogers likened as "emblematic of where we are in this country as we
address public transportation." He asked the audience to
"contrast where we are today with where we were a 20 short years
ago At that time there was a proposed elimination of any
Federal role in public transportation." He mentioned the
President's signing of "the FY-08 Omnibus appropriations bill of 550
billion dollars. Almost $10 billion of that total was to support the
Transportation Administration and public transportation throughout this
country." The users of the Sprinter should be able to "help their
communities to lead fuller, richer, and more productive lives.
Yes, it is public transit that provides an alternative to highway
increasingly it will be public transit that will assist in responding
to the challenges of climate change and global warming."
In celebration of this accomplishment this system, Mr. Rogers "would
like to call it also 'the connector,' but that's what it is, it
connects citizens of this community by bus, with the connections to
Amtrak, the Coaster and Metrolink. Today we celebrate the
visionary leadership of the past and current members of the NCTD
Board. And it is through their hard efforts that we got here
today. The Federal Transit Administration also is pleased to
recognize all of our partners, indeed, SANDAG, the State of California,
the PUC, and all of the participating cities." Whatever the
process difficulties, "it was all in the name of protecting the public
tax dollers. It has been a fine, and we believe, a worthy public
investment. We are indeed proud of the almost 152 million dollars
that the Federal Transit Administration commited to this project. We
are indeed proud of our investment in this project. But ladies
and gentlemen, we look to you to and your families to assure that we
realize our maximum return on investment." "We make that
happen by your riding the Sprinter every opportunity and chance that
you get Again, congratulations on this most noteworthy
accomplishment. NCTD Executive Director King then noted the
importance of "the FTA to provide the framework, the structure, and the
funding for this project..."
Lower left, Cameron Dirkle, San
Diego District Director, Representative of Governor Arnold
Schwarzeneger. "It really is a testament to all the people that
have been integral in the making of this project to happen. As
you know, nothing is easy today. Infrastructure projects are
hard...So many of you have shown that fortitude to make this tremendous
project happen. I want to thank you all on the behalf of the
Govenror... We look to public-private partnerships to make those
dollars more efficient...It's an exciting time."
Lower right, Don Bullock, Sprinter
Project Manager. In her introduction, NCTD
Executive Director King said Don Bullock had lived and breathed the
Sprinter for 10 years. Bullock asked "Are we there yet?
When we accomplished one goal, two more would crop up in its
place.". There were rarely a moment normal, predictable type of
project. They "faced lawsuits, landslides, floods, fires,
derailments, I emphasize the plural of those nouns. Environmental
issues, community issues, funding issues, political pressures,
regulatory constraints, just to name a few. Along with lots of
design changes, a few hundred contract changes. Just add water
and stir, you'll get kind of a sense of what we've been dealing with
here in the Sprinter team for the last five years or so." He
stated his "amazement that we are here today on schedule." He
then wanted to recognize the some of the key people, the players, that
have been really great partners in getting this done- our NCTD internal
team, Simon Wong Engineering, DMJMHarris, West Coast Rail Constructors,
Whiting Turner, and just hundreds of subs." At the peak of
construction, we had over 500 people working on this project."
"They have put into place, an idea that was generated over a quarter of
a century ago, mandated by the voters 20 years ago and seriously worked
on for the last 7 years. Sprinter is not the answer to the
transportation problem as we have heard today, but, it's just another
link in the web. It will be used! ... We simply just can't
build freeways in every direction and every way the way once
could. But we need to continue to manage the corridors and the
environment that we do have. And basically building this rail on
an existing corridor was a smart move and will used for years to come."
In closing, NCTD Executive Director King thanked the construction and
management firms. She then read a letter of congratulation from
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.
And, after a few bubbles were blown into the wind, the ceremony ended
with an invitation for the public to take a ride after the inagural
train departed for Oceanside.
On its way to completion, the Sprinter had a few splinters. Those
seemed to have healed very nicely and, in mid January 2008, the public
will be able to utilize the Sprinter for their transit needs.