California’s long awaited high speed rail may finally be here. California State officials have brought the project to the attention of California’s Supreme Court, in hopes of getting construction underway.
Friday, January 24th, Governor Jerry Brown sent forth a petition application to the California Supreme Court, in hopes of turning over the two lower-court rulings that are stagnating the high speed rail project.
The California High Speed rail is scheduled to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco, with possible extensions to San Diego and northern California. In a motor vehicle, the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco is roughly six hours up and down the interstate 5 highway. The new High-Speed train would reduce the time, connecting the cities by a 2 – 3 hour journey.
Jerry Brown has spoken out to voters admitting that gasoline consumption is one of California’s largest environmental dependencies, responsible for air-pollution and other negative environmental consequences. Connecting the project to Californian’s growing environmental consciousness, who just passed a plastic bag ban in Los Angeles, should give weight to Brown’s petition.
With California voters approving 8.6 billion dollars in State bonds, it is evident that Californians want the train. The two bills prevent the state from selling these bonds, and require the high-speed rail authorities to create a new financing plan. Brown and the high-speed rail authority’s petition, mandates California’s Supreme Court to expedite their review process attempting to turn over the two stagnating bills. Essentially, Brown is asking the court to ‘hurry up’.
State officials argue, the delay of the project will complicate and deter future voter-approved projects, demanding construction of the California High-speed rail finally be here. The Treasury department spoke to the court, saying the two lower-court bills go against the intent of California voters to construct and finance the project. Proposition 1A was approved by voters in 2008, relaying sentiments that voters seek improvement in California infrastructure.
As of now, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), lists the project being fully completed by 2029, with over 24 stations and 800 miles of track. These cities and stations will be connected by trains capable of reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour. The estimated cost of 300 miles of track is roughly 31 billion dollars, an expensive endeavor to say the least.
While the State is unable to sell these bonds, it is hard to determine how California is expected to finance the rail projects. In Washington, D.C., some federal officials anticipate California having to halt the project, if they do not make a 180 million dollar contribution due in May 2014.
With Washington and Denver seeing significant state surplus from legalizing marijuana, Californian’s may push to legalize marijuana in hopes of creating state revenue for the project.
Trains have always been iconic in Western America, and the philosophy of faster transportation leading to economic growth was born and honed by the Continental Railroad that connected the country. With Californians and other tourist being able to go to San Francisco or Los Angeles for dinner, and be home in time for bed, should mean economic growth for both cities. Although farmers up and down the interstate believe the train is bad for business, it seems the California High-Speed Rail is finally here.
by Zane Foley