Jerry Brown Signs High-Speed Rail Investment Bill

Written by Brian Rinker. Posted in News, Politics, Transportation

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Published on July 19, 2012 with 2 Comments

Governor Jerry Brown signed, Wednesday, Senate Bill 1029, legislation that will fund the modernization of existing regional rail systems in California as well as initial funding for a high-speed rail link between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Brian Rinker

July 19, 2012

Governor Jerry Brown approved Wednesday billions of dollars in government funding to initiate construction on a controversial high-speed rail line that will one day cut across the Central Valley and connect San Francisco with Los Angeles, despite threats of lawsuits and criticism that the cash-strapped state can’t afford such a massive project.

Billed as an investment in California’s future and a jobs creator, the $4.7 billion initial investment will be matched by an additional $7.9 billion in federal funds.

During a ceremony at the Transbay construction site in downtown San Francisco, Brown signed funding bill Senate Bill 1029 with political supporters, including Mayor Ed Lee, and construction workers wearing hardhats and reflective vests. Earlier in the day, Brown performed a similar ceremony in Los Angeles at Union Station. Both stations will anchor the future 800-mile high-speed rail line.

The California high-speed rail system will link Los Angeles to San Francisco at the -under-construction Transbay Terminal.

Brown and supporters say the electric high-speed rail line is necessary to accommodate the transportation needs for the state’s growing population, while using energy sources more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. As global oil reserves dwindle and prices skyrocket, a high-speed electric rail system could be a huge benefit to the state’s infrastructure, said supporters.

Voters originally approved $40 billion in bonds for the rail project in 2008, but the cost has since grown to upwards of $68 billion. The ballooning costs, lack of funding, political hurdles and environmental issues have all fueled the fire of criticism. Critics said the rail project has changed to such a degree it is no longer the same proposition voted in.

“I know there are fearful men – I call them declinists – who want to hide in a hole and hope something changes,” Brown said. “This is the time to invest, to create thousands of jobs like this project.”

Governor Jerry Brown.

While California will be the first state in the country to adopt a high speed rail network, Brown said 16 countries around the world already have successful high-speed rail networks.

Brown has advocated for rail systems since his first stint in the Governor’s mansion.

“I signed my first rail bill 30 years ago,” Brown said to a cheering crowd. “It’s taken this long to get things going.”

The high speed rail network will connect commuters from San Francisco to Los Angeles via the Central Valley at an estimated 220 miles per hour. Although it may be decades before the rails are completed, tens of thousands of jobs are expected to be created.

The bill will provide funding to build the initial 130-mile stretch of rail line between Merced and the San Fernando Valley and give billions to regional transportation agencies. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will get $61 million to build 1.7 miles of light-rail for the Central Subway, a project connecting Chinatown with downtown.

BART will get $145 million for new cars and to lengthen track at the Millbrae Station, and Caltrain will get $706 million to electrify its system.

The state’s investment in these projects will trigger additional federal funding that will total in the billions.

Brian Rinker

Brian Rinker

Brian Rinker is an award-winning journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He earned an associate degree in journalism from the City College of San Francisco before transferring to SF State where he currently is seeking a bachelor's degree in journalism. Brian reports on a wide range of topics ranging from local politics to urban beekeeping to students who moonlight as porn stars, and his passion lies in telling stories through the eyes of the individuals affected by the issues effecting our communities. Having spent most of his twenties drinking alcoholically and shooting heroin, Brian didn't develop a passion for journalism-- or anything else for that matter-- until he got sober at 29. He put down the needle and picked up the pen. Brian now uses his experience and strength to help others and serve the community.

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