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California Bullet Train Heading to Ballot
"If Californians approve the $10 billion bond proposal – enough to provide initial financing for the $42 billion system that could link north and south through the agricultural Central Valley –they will likely see the zooming trains in about a decade."
"The price tag may sound ominous in shaky financial times. But the project could turn out to be half the cost of alternatives, proponents say. They calculate that the additional 13.5 million people expected to reside in California within 20 years will result in 90 million to 115 million more intercity or region-to-region trips. Supporting the travelers would require at least $82 billion in upgrades, including 2,970 additional miles of freeway lanes, 90 new airport gates, and five new runways."
"Previous statewide votes on the train were readied, then taken off ballots in 2004 and 2006. In 2004, the reason was a large state deficit that required a bailout bond measure, and in 2006, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger placed one of the state's largest infrastructure bond measures before voters. He and other state legislators did not want any romantic notions of speeding bullet trains competing for voters' attention."
"This year, the state has a budget deficit of $16 billion, which could dampen enthusiasm for the train, but the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the proposal sponsor, has secured promises of federal matching funds and funding from public/private partnerships, and a 30-40 percent profit margin."