California State Senate Votes to Fund New High-Speed Rail Line
By James Shillinglaw
July 08, 2012 8:29 PM
California’s State Senate approved a bill (Senate Bill 1029) to begin funding construction of the first high-speed rail line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, a move that could dramatically change transportation habits between the two cities. The vote, backed by California Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration, authorizes the state to begin selling $4.5 billion in voter-approved bonds, including $2.6 billion to build an initial 130-mile stretch of the high-speed rail line. That, in turn, will allow the state to collect another $3.2 billion in federal funding.
Members of the California State Senate voted 21-16 along party lines after intense lobbying by Brown, Democratic leaders and labor groups. The bill, which passed the California State Assembly on July 5, now heads to the governor for his signature, which is expected. The first segment of the line will run from Madera to Bakersfield. The final cost of the completed project from Los Angeles to San Francisco is expected to be $68 billion.
The bill also allocates a total of $1.9 billion in bonds for regional rail improvements in Northern and Southern California. The upgrades include electrifying Caltrain, a San Jose-San Francisco commuter line, and improving Metrolink commuter lines in Southern California.
“Today’s vote to commence high-speed rail construction, like all major public policy decisions, is the result of hard work and collaborative effort. Credit must go to Governor Brown whose courage and steadfast leadership has improved the High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans and operations,” said Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “We also express deep gratitude to Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for passing this measure through their houses. The legislature’s action sets in motion a Statewide Rail Modernization Plan for California. Not only will California be the first state in the nation to build a high-speed rail system to connect our urban centers, we will also modernize and improve rail systems at the local and regional level. This plan will improve mobility for commuters and travelers alike, reduce emissions, and put thousands of people to work while enhancing our economic competitiveness.”