Already faced with a very cloudy future, the California High Speed Rail Authority was dealt yet another blow today, when its executive director announced he would be stepping down from his post in two months.
Roelof van Ark, who joined the state body less than two years ago, submitted his resignation on Thursday. van Ark’s departure comes at a perilous time for agency, which is charged with overseeing the state’s $98 billion rail project to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein made it public that she would like to see the Authority disbanded and absorbed under the leadership of Catrans, the state transportation department. Earlier this month, a peer advisory group recommended that state bond money be withheld from the project until a better business plan was devised by the Authority. Also, the Authority’s spokeswoman recently resigned.
Thomas Umberg, chair of the Authority’s board of directors, issued this statement regarding van Ark’s departure.
"With admiration, I would like to thank Mr. van Ark for his service to California and the high-speed rail project. The announcement of his resignation will resonate throughout the State. His energy, passion and dedication to this critically important project are a testament to his character and his professionalism. We are extremely lucky to have his continued counsel and advice as we move to implement high-speed rail in California. I remain grateful for his professionalism and friendship."