Another Step Forward For High-speed Rail In California

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THE VINE JULY 10, 2008

Another Step Forward For High-speed Rail In California

Plans are continuing apace for a new high-speed rail line in California, as the proposed route for the line was finalized today. The plan is to go from Anaheim to San Francisco via Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno, and San Jose, with future extensions planned to San Diego and Sacramento. At a top speed of 220 miles per hour, the trip from the Bay Area to Los Angeles would take two and a half hours. The critical juncture for the proposal will come this November, when residents will vote on a $9.9 billion bond measure needed to fund the project.

I'm inclined to support it, since California is an almost perfect place for a high-speed rail corridor: You have a handful of relatively dense metropolitan areas separated by distances that can be obnoxiously long for driving, but are really too short for flying to be necessary, given rail as an alternative. That said, the budget situation in the state is characteristically dire (maybe even worse than usual this time, which is saying something), so the thought of shelling out an additional $10 billion (plus, potentially, another $9.3 billion this November for a pretty critical water-storage bond being pushed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dianne Feinstein) is a tough pill to swallow, even though in my view there's a good chance the investment would be worthwhile in the long run.

--Josh Patashnik 

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