High-Speed Rail is Costly, But Creates Jobs For Many

A $10 billion economic boost to California was implemented when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined federal, state, and local officials to outline the funding of the state's proposed high-speed train system. Schwarzenegger and his delegation bid for more than $4.7 billion in federal stimulus funding to engineer, design, and construct the train, estimated to be nearly a $10 billion investment when state, local, and private matching funds are added.

On Oct. 2 the Governor submitted the state's application for a share of $8 billion set aside for developing a high-speed train under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the proposal meeting at the Los Angeles Union Station, Anaheim Mayor and High-Speed Rail Authority Board Chairman, Curt Pringle, said that California is proposing the first true high-speed train capable of over 200 miles per hour and is further along in planning than any other comparable project in the United States.

Officials say that unlike any other state, California can double the value of the federal dollars put into the project by matching funds and can achieve the environmental reviews needed to break ground before the Federal government's 2012 deadline.

California voted for the $9.95 billion bond for the high-speed rail in November 2008. Labor leaders and business and environmental groups support the efforts for the most part. A broad and bipartisan coalition supports the high-speed rail project because it will improve Californian's mobility and give citizens greater access to jobs without a grueling commute. while fueling our economy with billions of dollars. The train will generate an estimated 600,000 construction-related jobs to plan and design the system and another 450,000 permanent jobs for transportation work.

The California application for the $8 billion set aside for the development of the train includes $2.19 billion for Los Angeles to Anaheim. That money would contribute to facilities at Union Station, Norwalk Station and the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center and would include grade separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, guide way structures, tunneling and track work. This portion of the railway would produce 53,700 jobs alone. The remaining $6 billion is allotted for construction in San Francisco, San Jose, Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield and San Diego.

The construction of the railway would especially aid the Central Valley, which has been one of the hardest hit regions in the nation due to the economic downturn. The Central Valley Board members agree that the project will do exactly what it is intended to do, injecting a much-needed stimulus resulting in new jobs for the Central Valley-based community.

On Nov. 23,, Governor Schwarzenegger and senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer sent President Obama a letter urging the administration to give funds they requested in October from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act fund. The Governor wrote, "The success of California's high-speed rail is enormously important to our state. The high-speed rail will help ease congestion and improve air quality. With unemployment in California reaching 12.5 percent—the highest unemployment rate in nearly 70 years—the impact of providing 130,000 construction-related jobs statewide cannot be understated."

California is still waiting on the response to its application for funding and hoping that the issue is addressed soon so that the governor can finally take action and get the highly anticipated project underway.