Plans for California’s new high-speed rail project have just been kicked into high gear following last Friday’s vote in the state Senate. Legislators voted to approve initial funding for California’s new high-speed rail project – 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 state’s highways and airspace are becoming increasingly congested as California’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 Friday’s vote, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, stated that “Ten, 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.”
But despite all the enthusiasm voiced by proponents of California’s high-speed rail project, Friday’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 courtesy California High Speed Rail Authority