Brown Signs HSR Funding Legislation

Would start building in Central Valley

by Brian Leubitz

High speed rail in California has more than its share of opponents.  But today, it gets started in earnest:

With his most public cheerleading yet for California’s bullet train, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed the $8 billion bill to kick off high-speed rail construction as he lobbied to win back voters who are increasingly skeptical of the rail line.

Brown’s day-long, dual-city signature event began during a morning press conference at Union Station in Los Angeles and is set to be followed by another gala with supporters at the future Transbay Terminal in San Francisco. The locations were fitting in many ways since the stations will serve as the two endpoints of the $69 billion line, though Brown had to fly between events.

The centerpiece of SB 1029, however, is $6 billion to start building the first tracks in the Central Valley early next year. The remaining $2 billion will beef up transit while laying the groundwork for high-speed rail in the Bay Area and Southern California, including electrification of the existing Caltrain line between San Francisco and San Jose.(SJ Merc)

So, today is in many ways a momentous one. It means more jobs in the short term, and better infrastructure for more jobs in the long term. It means a future of a more connected California.

“California’s communities will be transformed and linked across the state.  And our nation will enjoy increased global competitiveness, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and more affordable and convenient transportation options for all Americans,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Using current day thinking, analysts predict poor ridership and many want to just stay with the status quo.  Unfortunately, the status quo, unless we like aging infrastructure and enormous traffic delays, isn’t really an option. Not building HSR demands big road and airport expansion projects. Plus, there is the fact that we’ve probably hit peak oil and gas won’t be getting substantially cheaper from here on out. Mass transit must become more efficient. That means everything from bus and commuter rail to HSR.

But HSR would offer California a unique proposition. Northern and Southern California, two very distinct centers of innovation would be even more easily linked. No other location in the world would offer similar resources. Now, HSR is just one step in increasing our competitiveness. We have to recommit to both K12 and higher education. But the cards are all still out there for an even more vibrant California, we just have to play the right ones.