What’s Up With The California High Speed Rail?

Cost over runs. Delays. Hostile Opposition. Lawsuits. Unsure Funding Sources. Environmental Concerns. High Staff Turnover. Late Parcel Delivery. Extended Deadlines.

Is it ever going to be built? Is it ever going to run? I say Yes and Yes!

Properties have been purchased in Madera and Fresno by the High Speed Rail (HSR). Families and businesses have been relocated. Buildings are being demolished in order to make way for rail construction.

Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Quoting Johnny Cash, “I hear the train a comin’. It’s rolling ‘round the bend.” Construction has finally begun. Swoosh! Can you hear the train? I can.

It is easy to focus on the negative reasons why high speed rail is bad for California but remember the people of this state voted by a majority in November 2008 to pass Proposition 1A which allocated $9.95 billion to the California High Speed Rail Authority. The voters had a positive outlook for the future investment in California’s transportation infrastructure.

I did not vote in favor of the HSR. I foresaw it as a waste of money. I too was a naysayer. It was easy to cast doubt when I did not know the benefits of the HSR. Californians will never get out of their cars I said. But I have changed my mind. I drank the Kool-Aid and have seen the light. Now I am an advocate.

“You can pave farmlands with new roads and black out skies with airplanes but the air we breathe will be no better than a tailpipe. This project brings an infusion of energy into rural areas of high unemployment and provides relief for urban traffic gridlock. Most importantly, it’s an investment in California’s future.” — Darrell Steinberg, Senate Pro-Tem.

According to the US High Speed Rail Association, “Cities that have high speed rail will be more competitive and better positioned to attract tourism, businesses, and high quality personnel.” This especially benefits cities in the Central Valley.

Photo: thesolisgroip.com

I live in the City of Clovis, just 6 miles northeast of Fresno. Growing up in Orange County, a drive to the beach took 20 minutes. A drive to the beach now takes me 3 hours. If I want to visit my children in Orange County, it takes me 5 hours to get there. A drive to San Jose is also 3 hours long. Paying for a flight out of Fresno Yosemite International Airport is just too expensive. So I drive. Stressed out in traffic and polluting the air.

Unemployment rates are high in the Central Valley. There are a lot of agricultural jobs as well as retail and service here in the Valley. The major employers are cities, counties,and medical. We need more employers. The HSR will open up the Valley to the employment centers of California and provide more opportunity for Valley residents. It will also help families attain the American dream of home ownership here where housing is affordable.

We need the High Speed Rail.