"The high-speed train's economic development and environmental benefits are significant and we want to bring it to Sacramento as soon as possible," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. "I am strongly supportive of the High-Speed Rail Authority's current effort to secure additional federal funding that will help us move the project forward more quickly."
Moving the HSR derail from the Airport thread to its own thread.
People seem very divided about the potential of high-speed rail. Some Midwestern and Southern states are giving up their HSR money, which frees it up for use in states where it is wanted, like California. This will leverage the bonds we have already approved for construction. Why I think it's a good idea:
* The San Francisco Peninsula seems very resistant to HSR in their backyard. If they don't want it, rather than see it not built, why not offer Sacramento as a northern terminal? Build it where there is a market, and let the route to San Francisco be built in the second phase.
* The alternative to not building HSR is not saving money--the alternative is spending the same or larger amounts of money trying to prop up our current transit modes--highways and airports. These modes are already heavily subsidized and straining at the limits of their capacity. HSR would not entirely replace those modes--they have their uses--but they would fill a much-needed niche in the transportation market.
* Spending on infrastructure development promotes investment and development, and the form of that development is very much based on the transit mode. Highways and airports promote horizontal, suburban development. Rail transit promotes vertical, urban development. There is a lot of room for just that sort of development in the great central valley, and promoting dense development means we can retain that land area for agriculture (a $36 billion industry in this state!) instead of turning it into more suburbs.
* I don't agree with calls for austerity. It didn't work during the last Great Depression (Hoover's budget-balancing 1929-1932 and the rollback of New Deal projects in 1937 both worsened the economy) and it doesn't work now. Yes, these are debts we'll have to repay--but we won't repay those debts if we don't rebuild our nation.
* I also don't agree with the idea that Americans in general (and Californians in particular) are somehow constitutionally incapable of creating the same kind of transportation infrastructure that is already common in Europe, Japan and China. It speaks of a lack of faith in American worker and American companies. If we are worried that the Chinese are taking over, the answer is simple: just as we did with the first transcontinental railroad, we require that the work be done by American companies and American banks, using American suppliers. If the worry is that American companies aren't capable of doing this sort of work, well, that's part of the problem--and infrastructure projects like this are part of the solution. (Incidentally, that transcontinental railroad was built primarily by immigrant workers--but part of how you turn an immigrant into an American is to give them a job to do.)
* A major part of what has led us into the current financial crisis was American companies' willingness to stop actually building things, and instead turning imaginary piles of paper into larger imaginary piles of paper (characterized by companies like General Electric, which is mostly a financial services company rather than a company that makes electric things.) The answer is for Americans to START BUILDING STUFF. Which probably means that part of the solution is fewer regulations regarding building stuff, and more regulations that limit making imaginary piles of paper into bigger imaginary piles of paper--including the imaginary piles of paper produced by government.
* This all means lots and lots of jobs--exactly where they are needed (the central valley, where unemployment is highest) and exactly in the segments where they are needed (construction.) That means fewer folks unemployed, fewer people dependent on government with no opportunity to give back, and the money they earn will be spent to feed and house and clothe their families--all in California. That money doesn't vanish, it benefits the communities where HSR is built even before the line is completed.
* So does HSR specifically have to come to Sacramento to benefit? No. It would be nice, I suppose--but as Sacramento's administrative capital, what's good for California is also good for Sacramento. If we end up not being on the initial right-of-way, we can work with Caltrans to enhance existing rail service to the points where it does go--either by enhancing the Capitol Corridor to the Bay Area or the San Joaquin to the transfer point to the Peninsula. Because the Valley spot is more likely to see greater total growth as a result of HSR investment, the San Joaquin (or setting up a "regular-speed" rail alignment) might be the better long-term choice.