California Labor Cheers High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking Statement by California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski “In California, we don't just talk about big ideas. We make them reality. With today's groundbreaking, California's job-creating high-speed rail project takes a giant leap forward, bringing along with it the promise and vision that's part of the fabric of […]
California has always been a state of visionaries and risk-takers. From Silicon Valley to Hollywood and everywhere in between, creative and innovative thinkers have taken risks to develop new products, new industries and new inventions. Investment by the public in the state’s highways, bridges, universities and skilled workforce has allowed visionaries to make their dreams a reality.
Today, California continues our proud tradition as a leader in both vision and investment. Leaders from labor, business and government gathered in Fresno to break ground on the most ambitious public works project in the country—high-speed rail. California’s 500-mile high speed rail system will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles with the spine built in the Central Valley.
California urgently needs high speed rail now. The nay-sayers are still searching for reasons to delay this great public works project further, but they are out of excuses. The delays need to stop. It is time to move forward and begin building. The transportation needs, the workers and the dollars are there to get started.
Governor Brown has made the sensible suggestion to use cap-and-trade dollars for some of the funding. That makes sense because the very purpose of cap-and-trade is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels–one of the greatest benefits high-speed mass transit rail will bring to California. Without question, providing electrified mass transit for the people of California will reduce our use of fossil fuels.
The voices of doom and decline say that high-speed rail cannot be built in California. They’ve tried to stop the forces of progress by calling high-speed rail “a boondoggle” and “a waste.” This is not a new phenomenon. Enemies of progress said the same thing about the Golden Gate Bridge, built in the middle of the Great Depression. They screamed “boondoggle” at every major public works project in the 20th century while California was constructing a world-class infrastructure of freeways, dams, bridges and aqueducts that fostered a golden age of middle-class growth.
The Labor Movement rejects the voices of doom, because we have a vision for California. We know it’s time to invest in California’s future, starting with construction of high-speed rail.
There is a national effort underway to see that High Speed Rail becomes a reality in America. High-speed rail has been moving passengers at speeds of up to 220 mph in other countries around the world since 1964, when it was inaugurated in Japan almost 50 years ago. France inaugurated its high speed rail system in 1981, and other countries in Europe and Asia have followed. Now, we're fighting to make high speed rail a reality in America, starting in California, and you can help.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) recently launched StandUpForTrains.org. This site allows California residents to send an email in support of HSR to their State Senator and Assembly member. This is critical, given the Assembly and State Senate will soon vote on the appropriation of $2.3 billion in rail bonds to begin construction of the first phase by the end of the year.
sums it up pretty well in the first three words: Better. Faster. Cheaper.
Under Gov. Brown’s direction, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has made key improvements to previous plans, bringing us one step closer to making the vision of high-speed rail – and all its benefits to our economy and environment – a reality.
The new business plan addresses two of the biggest challenges for high-speed rail head on: cost and viability. Through the use of existing commuter lines and other cost-saving measures, the new plan shaves a whopping $30 billion off the overall cost of the project. In addition, the new plan connects the Central Valley with the Los Angeles basin in the first phase of the project, which will increase ridership early on.
Among the big political news this week was the release of the Legislative Peer Review Group’s report on the California high-speed rail project. The report recommends that the state freezes the project “at this time” until further assessment is done on its long-term feasibility. Problem is, the report was completed with minimal consultation with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, and ignored many of the details on feasibility included in the Authority’s recent business plan.
Opponents seized on the erroneous report to further their campaign to derail the project. While it might make good politics for some conservatives to oppose a signature program of the Obama White House, it certainly doesn’t make for good policy.