7/6/2012: TransForm applauds vote to begin High Speed Rail construction

California Embraces the Future with High-Speed Rail

Hairsplitting vote for Once-in-a-Century Opportunity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Friday, July 6, 2012

Stuart Cohen, 510-543-7419
[email protected]

After 19 years of planning in fits and starts, the California Senate today passed a bill to start construction of high speed rail in California, which will now head to the Governor for his assured signature. 

“Exactly 150 years after the Transcontinental Railroad was authorized, California is taking up a similarly visionary, bold, yet risky move.” said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, California’s largest transportation nonprofit.  “But failing to build high speed rail would also pose huge risks, namely intensive reliance on expensive highway widening and airport expansions.”

“Building high-speed rail in California could reinforce cities as the hubs of our economies, significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, get commuters off congested roads, and cost much less than highway and airport expansion. It will provide Californians with an improved transportation option that has for decades been available in other nations.”

In April the California High Speed Rail Authority produced a revised business plan.  The most significant change in new plan is that it scales back parts of the project, reduces community impacts by narrowing the width of the corridor required in most urban areas, and reduces costs to $68 billion. It will support early upgrades to Caltrain and Metrolink as well as lines now used by Amtrak and ACE, allowing those systems go faster and attract more riders.  Millions of Californians will benefit from these first investments by 2018.  These upgrades will also serve to make those corridors more ready for full high speed rail.

In November 2008 voters passed Proposition 1A, which authorized $9 billion of state bond funds toward the project.  Per Prop 1A, the state legislature had to appropriate the bond funds before they can be spent.  This vote today is to move forward with the first construction segment of high-speed rail in the Central Valley, as well as spending nearly $2 billion in other parts of the state.

TransForm produced a report Moving Ahead with High Speed Rail, that explains the April 2012 Revised Business Plan for high speed rail, and why TransForm is supporting this version. The full report plus a four page summary, please go to /resource/moving-ahead-high-speed-rail

# # #