To support the release of the California High-SpeedRail Authority 2012 Business and Funding Planand urge the Legislature to release voter-approved Proposition 1A bonds so that construction of Californiahigh-speed rail (HSR) begins in 2012.
As the largest public infrastructure project in the nation, construction of high-speed rail will bring enormous economic benefits to California. Starting
in 2012, construction of the system will put hundreds of thousands of skilled workers back to work up and down the state. California has always been a land of visionaries. We are once again blazing a trail by becoming the first state to build a high-speed rail system. In 2008, voters approved Proposition 1A, authorizing $9 billion in bond funding for the construction of a statewide high-speed rail system.
California cannot afford to abandon high-speed rail now. The best way to solve our budget problems is to put Californians back to work. Building highspeed
rail will grow our economy and create longterm jobs. An estimated 450,000 jobs in operations, maintenance, ticketing, and services will be needed to keep HSR up and running.
Since California would be the first state in the nation to build true high-speed rail, we have the opportunity to develop the HSR sector, providing technology, training and expertise for the nation and the world and increasing demand for skilled workers.
Just as building airports, highways, and ports propelled California as a leader in the global economy, high-speed rail will be the backbone of the state’s economic future. High-speed rail will alleviate road and air traffic congestion, making it easier to move freight around the state and globally through our ports.
High-speed rail will connect fast-growing areas in the Central Valley with Northern and Southern California, allowing for rapid and seamless movement. The HSR system will connect a growing workforce and rich agricultural area with the economic hubs in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
In addition, train stations in the Central Valley present the opportunity for transit-centered development and revitalization of downtown districts. At a time when cities like Stockton, Merced, Fresno and Modesto struggle with high unemployment and foreclosure rates, HSR stations provide hope for
affordable new housing and jobs.
Proposition 1A also provides funding to improve existing commuter, intercity and urban rail. The bond, when issued, includes funding to upgrade local transit and to connect them to the state HSR system. Even with construction starting in the Central Valley, the local transit bond funding will create jobs in urban areas.
In January 2010, California was awarded $2.25 billion by the federal government for high-speed rail. The federal government required that the funds be used to start construction on a 130 mile “spine” of the system in the Central Valley. The spine will allow for the testing of true high-speed trains at over 200mph. In order to meet the federal deadline of 2017 for use of funds, California must start construction in the Central Valley by the end of 2012.
It is time that we started investing in California again. Californians are not short on work ethic, but we are short on work. We must use our resources to rebuild California, starting with the transportation system of the future. High-speed rail is California’s ticket to economic recovery and to putting workers back to work.
Investment in high-speed rail will put Californians back to work and restore California’s role as a global economic leader. In order to break ground in 2012, the High-Speed Rail Authority must approve a 2012 Business and Funding Plan. Then the Legislature can authorize the sale of Proposition 1A bonds. Once the funds are in hand, workers will be put to work breaking ground in the Central Valley.
Labor and general public support is critical to counter the political posturing of opponents of the project and to highlight the myriad economic benefits of building high-speed rail starting in the Central Valley this year.
~ California Labor Federation
~ California-Nevada Conference of Operating Engineers
~ Operating Engineers, Local 3
~ International Association of Machinists
~ International Brotherhood of Teamsters
~ International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
~ Laborers International Union
~ State Building and Construction Trades Council of California
Sara Flocks, California Labor Federation (510) 332-1996