Plans for Californiaâ€™s new high-speed rail project have just been kicked into high gear following last Fridayâ€™s vote in the state Senate. Legislators voted to approve initial funding for Californiaâ€™s new high-speed rail project â€“ the largest infrastructure project the country has ever seen.
Nearly $8 billion in funding will be allocated for phase one, which will consist of a 130 mile stretch of track in the Central Valley. Ultimately, the project will cost an estimated $69 billion and span nearly 520 miles.
The purpose of the project is to provide Californians with a high-speed option for travel within the state. Many claim that the stateâ€™s highways and airspace are becoming increasingly congested as Californiaâ€™s population increases. They argue that the state needs to look into alternative transportation options in order to alleviate strain on the already highly-congested transportation system.
Following Fridayâ€™s vote, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, stated that â€œTen, 20, 30 years from now, Californians will be glad that we made the decision and that they have a 21st century modern transportation system that will be the pride of the country, and the pride of the world.â€
But despite all the enthusiasm voiced by proponents of Californiaâ€™s high-speed rail project, Fridayâ€™s vote passed by only a slim margin. The project required 21 votes to pass, and it managed to squeak through with a final vote tally of 21-16. Not one Replublican supported the bill and even Democrats debated amongst themselves as to how to execute the project.
Although supporters of the project claim it creates jobs and provides a sustainable form of transportation, critics say it is a huge risk spending so much money under the present economic conditions.
Do you think California is making the right decision by investing in a massive high-speed rail project?
Images courtesyÂ California High Speed Rail Authority