California vote vital – support Prop 1A


Sacramento Station,
visualisation by NCD3 for California High-Speed Rail Authority

On November 4 the voters of the  United States will choose their next President. But the voters of California will also be voting on proposition 1A and deciding whether or not to authorise the USA’s first high speed raiway, the first stage of a new line running between San Diego and Sacramento, with connections to the Bay Area.

Los Angeles to San Francisco by rail in two and a half hours?

High-speed rail advocates in California have been pushing high-speed rail for 25 years and have never been able to raise enough public support. But now a confluence of events – rising fuel prices, gridlocked roads, jammed airports, a concern about global warming and the need to bootstrap the economy – present the best chance yet to bring high speed rail to America.

Proposition 1A would authorize $9.95 billion in bonds to finance the first phase of an 800-mile high-speed rail line that would connect the San Francisco Bay Area with Los Angeles. Several transportation, environmental and business groups say it would offer a faster, cheaper and greener travel while easing the strain on California’s notoriously backed-up highways and airports. Trains would make the 400-mile run between the two cities at about 220 mph (considerably faster than the 150 mph top speed attained by the USA’s fastest train, the Acela Express, linking Washington, D.C. with Boston).

The project is expected to cost $32 billion, with extensions to San Diego and Sacramento adding another $10 billion. The rail authority envisages that local taxpayers, the Government and private investors would share the costs equally. Construction could begin as early as 2011 and trains might be running by 2020. Advocates claim the largest public works project in state history would create as many as 160,000 construction jobs and spur 400,000 more jobs once the system is up and running.

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