Critics of High-Speed Rail Are Wrong, California Governor Says

ca highspeedrail thumb 717x477 112298 Critics of High Speed Rail Are Wrong, California Governor Says

Bullet trains. They’re cool in Japan, China and Europe, but are they practical and affordable enough for California? This is a matter of intense debate appropriate now.

On January three, the independent California Large Speed Rail Peer Review Group (a entire body of six individuals from the public and private sector) advised that the state legislature must not acceptable funds to assistance Proposition 1A, the $ 9.95 billion large-speed rail bond act passed by CA voters in 2008.

The peer group’s reasoning? That the state has only secured enough federal (about $ 3.5 billion) and state funding to build 130 miles of track from Chowchilla, CA (a Central Valley town north of Fresno) to Bakersfield. As you might infer from the map soon after the jump, this is not a densely populated place, and in order to ensure brisk ridership, the state will need to have to extend the line to the major cities to the north and south. Building track all the way to Los Angeles will cost an estimated $ 18 billion — $ 18 billion that the state not however nailed down for this project.

Eight days later, Roelof van Ark, CEO of the California Large-Speed Rail Authority (the state company in charge of the project) resigned, and the chairman of the authority’s board, Thomas Umberg, stepped down from his chair place but mentioned he’d stay on the board.

Then, just when it looked like the large-speed rail project was falling apart, Governor Jerry Brown gave it a boost in his State of the State tackle this week….

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Excerpt from the Governor’s address:

“Just as bold is our program to create a substantial-speed rail technique, connecting the Northern and Southern elements of our state. This is not a new concept. As governor the last time, I signed legislation to examine the concept. Now thirty years later on, we are inside weeks of a revised company strategy that will allow us to start first development ahead of the year is out.

“President Obama strongly supports the project and has offered the vast majority of funds for this 1st phase. It is now your selection to assess the strategy and make a decision what action to take. Without any hesitation, I urge your approval.

“If you think that California will carry on to develop, as I do, and that millions far more people will be residing in our state, this is a smart investment. Creating new runways and expanding our airports and highways is the only alternative. That is not less costly and will face even a lot more political opposition.

“People who think that California is in decline will naturally shrink back from such a strenuous undertaking. I realize that feeling but I don’t share it, simply because I know this state and the spirit of the folks who decide on to reside here. California is nevertheless the Gold Mountain that Chinese immigrants in 1848 came across the Pacific to locate. The wealth is various, derived as it is, not from mining the Sierras but from the imaginative imagination of people who invent and construct and create the tips that drive our economic climate forward.

“Critics of the substantial-speed rail project abound as they typically do when some thing of this magnitude is proposed. Throughout the 1930’s, The Central Valley Water Project was known as a ‘fantastic dream’ that ‘will not function.’ The Master Strategy for the Interstate Highway Program in 1939 was derided as ‘new Offer jitterbug economics.’ In 1966, then Mayor Johnson of Berkeley called BART a ‘billion dollar likely fiasco.’ Similarly, the Panama Canal was for years believed to be impractical and Benjamin Disraeli himself explained of the Suez Canal: ‘totally impossible to be carried out.’ The critics were incorrect then and they are incorrect now.”

So, there it is then. Naturally, since this was a State of the State tackle, Governor Brown didn’t/could not get into the details like in which the further funds for the project will come from… but informally, at least, his feedback are difficult to swallow given that massive education cuts are looming in our money-strapped state if voters do not approve a Brown-supported tax measure this fall.

A nearby radio show, Which Way L.A.?, covered this controversial matter in excellent detail in early January, and it is really worth a listen (link below) whether you happen to be for or against these costly, rapidly trains. Host Warren Olney interviews Umberg, formerly the chair of the state’s Rail Authority, and Lou Thompson, one particular of the participants on the independent peer assessment group. The conversation starts around the 10-minute mark.

With regards to the peer group’s recommendation against legislative funding, Umberg tells Olney, “Advocating that the Legislature not approve the bond is tantamount to killing the project.” He observes that delaying construction could outcome in the state losing the $ three.5 billion in federal funding.

For his part, Thompson (the guy on the indie peer evaluation group) says he supports high-speed rail but is concerned the state will end up in between a rock and a hard location come mid-decade when far more funds are needed to finish the project.

I’ve taken a flak around the office for liking the trains, supporting the project, voting for Brown and typically assisting to ruin our state. Which side are you on?

(KPCC, The Atlantic Cities)

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