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Statement by Emily Rusch, State Director of CALPIRG
If we want to resign ourselves to a California without high-speed rail, that requires us to depend on congested freeways to get around and that requires even more expensive freeway and airport construction to meet growing transportation needs, then the legislature should follow the advice of the Legislative Analyst’s Office and refuse to fund high-speed rail planning this year.
But if we are going to build this high-speed train between Los Angeles and San Francisco, we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work in the Central Valley, not delay construction further.
Delays in construction would invariably result in higher costs and put billions in existing federal funding at risk.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office is right that this project is at a critical juncture. Construction is slated to begin in 2012. Clearly, we need our elected officials, including both Gov. Brown and the legislature, to make sure there is adequate oversight of the planning and construction that is necessary with a project this monumental.
We recommend that the legislature and governor focus on that oversight, rather than reexamining the decision that has already been made to start construction in the Central Valley. Starting construction elsewhere only makes sense if we abandon the vision of connecting high-speed rail between northern and southern California.
At this critical juncture Gov. Brown should make sure that the state redoubles its commitment to building this project, and building it well. The upsides to the high-speed rail are huge, as voters recognized when they supported Prop 1A. A high-speed rail system connecting northern and southern California would have substantial benefits to the state, including reducing harmful air pollution, incentivizing smart growth, offering travelers a way out of traffic congestion, and, as the Legislative Analyst’s Office points out, still being cheaper than the alternative transportation infrastructure that California will need to build without high-speed rail.
CALPIRG Education Fund has released several reports on transportation policy and high-speed rail over the last few years, including:
The reports can be found at www.calpirg.org/report.
The California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (CALPIRG) is a result-oriented public interest group that protects consumers, encourages a fair sustainable economy, and fosters responsive democratic governance.
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