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For California, high-speed rail is right on track

Perhaps you’ve driven on the 5, the 110, 680 or 101 recently.

Or maybe you’ve taken a flight into or out of  LAX,  SFO or San Diego’s Lindbergh airports.  

In either case you’ve seen first hand how things are not moving in California.  California’s once exemplary transportation network is locked in congestion.  And as our population grows towards 50 million, it’s only going to get worse.

Proposition 1A on November’s ballot offers a forward-thinking, long-term opportunity to deal with California’s transportation troubles.   It will authorize construction of a high-speed train system connecting California’s major cities.   

How does downtown San Francisco to downtown Los Angeles in about two and a half hours sound?

The high-speed train project couldn’t be arriving at a better time for our state and our economy.  That’s because long before the rails even carry their first passengers, the high-speed train will deliver an economic boost California and our communities up and down the state critically need.

The final development stages and construction will create 160,000 jobs, injecting investment directly back into local businesses and households where it can be most effective. And once running, the whole system will generate more than 450,000 permanent jobs, including in new businesses around vibrant new and revitalized downtown stations that will come to life in our cities.

The high-speed train will also pay long term dividends in our environment.   The trains will be all electric.  They won’t burn fossil fuels like oil, keeping some 12 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming from entering our environment each year.   That’s equivalent to taking one million cars off the road.

Plus, the high-speed train will save some 12.7 million barrels of oil per year.  That’s because a passenger on a train uses one third of the energy of one in an airplane and one fifth of the energy of one in a car.   

 Today, congestion on our roads and in our airports costs Californians about $20 billion per year in lost time and wasted fuel.  Those are resources that would be much better invested in our economy and our families, which they could be if the high-speed rail is built.   It is a forward-thinking long-term investment in California’s future much like our university system and water project were decades ago … an investment that will serve our state for generations to come.

Proposition 1A would allow the sale of $9.95 billion dollars of state bonds to help pay for the development and construction of high-speed rail.   But, the state will not do this alone.   Construction will be funded through a partnership of federal, private and state dollars.   That means every state bond dollar used for construction will attract at least two more dollars of matching funds, making the most of the bond investment.    

And taxpayers are protected.   If the matching funds for construction are not raised, the bond money for construction will not be spent.    That is the law. (Just last week President Bush signed a rail authorization bill that included several billion federal dollars in funds for high-speed train development for which California could apply.)

Ongoing operations of the high-speed train system will be funded by ticket revenue, without public subsidy.

Prop 1A is supported by a diverse coalition including business groups from across the state such as the Los Angeles Area and San Francisco Chambers of Commerce; environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the California League of Conservation Voters; and labor organizations including California Labor Federation and the California Nurses Association.  

Prop 1A, by building the high-speed train system, will provide a long-term, environmentally responsible solution to the congestion challenge California faces. It will reduce dangerous pollution and save oil.  And Prop 1A comes at a time when our struggling economy can definitely use the economic boost and the hundreds of thousands of jobs the high-speed train project will bring to communities throughout California.  

Vote Yes on Proposition 1A for the High-Speed Rail System – to ease congestion, fight pollution and create jobs!


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