California Assembly Continues to Debate High-Speed Rail

With a train-friendly administration in Washington, supporters of the project hope that state leaders will make a stronger commitment to funding the full project.

Read Time: 2 minutes

March 21, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

California High-Speed Rail Authority (CASHRA) CEO Brian Kelly faced questions from state Assemblymembers in a joint hearing on March 10 as state leaders continue to debate the plan for building a 400-mile system connecting Southern California and the Bay Area via the Central Valley. As Melanie Curry reports in Streetsblog Cal, Kelly presented "the current business plan, which focuses on completing a usable 171-mile segment of electrified high-speed rail from Merced to Bakersfield," connecting some of California's fastest-growing cities.

With a more train-friendly administration in the White House, HSR supporters hope the project will benefit from federal funding that was withheld during the Trump administration. At the hearing, Louis Thompson, head of the High Speed Rail Peer Review Group, "urged the legislature to make a decision on whether it will commit to the project going forward," saying that the project "can never be managed without adequate and stable funding." In order to get the most out of the project, he said, the state has to show "ongoing commitment." Without a commitment to building the full system, warned Kelly, the state "will have spent $14 billion on a system that does not get you eighteen trips a day, that will be forced to share tracks with freight corridors, and will not bring an increase in ridership."

Since "the original bond funding was never meant to fully fund construction of a high-speed rail project from Los Angeles to San Francisco," writes Curry, it's time for the legislature to make concrete plans for securing the funding needed to build an effective HSR system.

Thursday, March 11, 2021 in Streetsblog California

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