The New York Times says California's plan for a high-speed passenger rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco has maintained high-level backing despite "what might seem like insurmountable political and fiscal obstacles."
Says The Times:
The pro-train constituency has not been derailed by a state report this month that found the cost of the bullet train tripling to $98 billion for a project that would not be finished until 2033, by news that Republicans in Congress are close to eliminating federal high-speed rail financing this year, by opposition from California farmers and landowners upset about tracks tearing through their communities or by questions about how much the state or private businesses will be able to contribute....
“It’s not putting someone on the moon, but it’s a state version of making a giant leap forward,” said Bob Blumenfield, a Democrat in the State Assembly. “We in California pioneered the public project. It’s not a luxury; it’s a critical piece of infrastructure.”
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown supports the project, which aims eventually to carry passengers between LA and San Francisco in just 2 hours and 38 minutes. The California High-Speed Rail Authority is proposing that the project be built in phases, beginning with 130 miles in the Central Valley.
According to the paper, several experts, including Richard Geddes, an associate professor at Cornell University, expressed skepticism that riders would be as numerous as supporters of the project have suggested. Nonetheless, Emily Rush, director of the California Public Interest Research Group, praised the latest business plan for the project, and said, "There's no question that California needs to invest in more and better transportation."
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