State approves funding for high-speed rail project
Train will travel from L.A. to San Francisco
An executive with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority applauded the state legislature’s recent approval of funding for the first phase of a high-speed rail project from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
The state Senate on July 6 voted 21-16 to authorize about $8 billion in spending on the project, starting with construction in the Central Valley. The Assembly voted 51-27 to approve the funding. The money includes $2.6 billion in rail bonds passed by California voters in 2008 and $3.2 billion in federal money for a 130-mile stretch of track from Madera to Bakersfield. The bill also included $2 billion in funding for projects in the Bay Area and L.A. County.
Supporters say the project will create thousands of construction jobs.
Critics argue the estimated $68 billion project has nearly doubled in cost and changed significantly from the plan voters approved in 2008. The original price tag was $40 billion. The High-Speed Rail Authority scaled the plan down to upgrade and use existing rail infrastructure around Los Angeles and San Francisco rather than build new track in the metro areas.
The approval is a victory for Gov. Jerry Brown, who pushed hard for the project. In a statement, Brown called the vote a “bold action” that will create jobs and “puts California out in front once again.”
Metro Deputy CEO Paul Taylor applauded the vote and said L.A. County could see construction on new tracks and platforms begin by the end of the year. “We think it’s great,” Taylor said. “Not only because high-speed rail moves forward, anchored in Southern California at Union Station, but also included in the budget language is funding for making improvements to our rail infrastructure south of Palmdale.”
Taylor said the bill also includes close to $110 million for the downtown regional connector, an underground light rail that will enable riders to get around L.A. County without having to transfer to different trains.
Lancaster continues to frame the national debate about the merits of green technology as it welcomes Chinese automaker BYD Co. here to produce electric buses. The city is rapidly becoming known as the “solar capital of the world,” and local officials believe the new manufacturing deal will provide an economic boost on both sides of the Pacific Rim.
BYD Co. (Build Your Dreams) opened shop Wednesday at 46147 BYD Blvd. (formerly 7th Street W., just north of Avenue H) to make the “K9” electric bus destined first for Long Beach Transit.
California’s balance sheet is mired in an unusual dilemma: while the criminal justice portion of the state budget has shot up, the higher education portion has shot down.
During recessions, higher education budgets typically experience significant state funding cuts (money for proposed construction projects, campus refurbishment, scholarships/grants) but the corrections budget remains about the same.
“This money is so dirty it had to be laundered five times—and it still stinks.” —Gov. Jerry Brown
After years of planning, followed by delays, lawsuits, recession and a slow economic recovery, the California High Speed Rail Project will at last begin construction this summer. The first major leg will stretch from Madera to Fresno in the Central Valley, and then extend 114 miles south to Bakersfield. A second portion will run from Palmdale, through Victorville and onto Las Vegas, Nev.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Voters will decide today whether to extend a half-cent sales tax for an additional 30 years to accelerate public transit and highway projects, including the Westside Subway Extension and transit to Los Angeles International Airport.