Senators, Governor urge high-speed rail funding

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, joined by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote to President Barack Obama today in support of California’s requests for high-speed and intercity rail funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Read the full text of the letter, after the jump…

November 23, 2009

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write in strong support of California’s applications for high-speed and intercity rail funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). California has led the nation in its commitment to creating a statewide high-speed rail system.

Our state has been a leader and innovator in addressing environmental and transportation challenges on a national level. Last November, California voters approved nearly $9 billion in state bonds for high-speed rail construction, far outpacing other states’ efforts to secure local and state funding for these projects. California has completed design and planning for the nearly 800-mile system and made significant progress on the environmental review, making our state uniquely qualified to employ federal funding quickly.

California’s high-speed rail applications have broad support across the state, with backing from leading business, environmental and labor leaders. The California Chamber of Commerce, the Labor Federation of California and the Sierra Club have all endorsed California’s applications for funding. The success of California’s high-speed rail system is enormously important to our state. High-speed rail will help ease congestion and improve air quality. With unemployment in California reaching 12.5 percent – the highest unemployment rate in nearly 70 years – the impact of providing 130,000 construction-related jobs statewide cannot be understated.

We appreciate your attention to the needs of California and thank you for your commitment to this important issue. We stand ready to work with your administration in the coming years to ensure that high-speed rail has the resources necessary to continue to be a national priority.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Arnold Schwarzenegger

cc: The Honorable Raymond H. LaHood

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Now doesn’t this just make perfect sense?

    The state is billions of dollars in the red, the feds trillions.

    So let’s buy ourselves a fancy new train set!

  • The recent expenditure authorization of almost $10M for a PR agency to monitor criticism of the High Speed Rail, and the HSR Authority, claiming that there is a lot of “misinformation out there” that needs to be corrected begs the question how the HSR Authority can make claims like it does with not hard evidence and not expect people to be critical of its vision, its judgment and its ethics?

    For instance, there are any number of reports that the HSR Authority has projected 100M riders per year on this conveyance. Based on what evidence? Or is does this Agency claim the right to use crystal balls? Certainly they have not taken Broadband into consideration for their use models.

    Broadband is going to change the way America does business, and travels. The full impact of this technology is yet to be felt; however, it will be disruptive, and will reduce the need for people to travel as they have in the past.

    For instance, as high quality, low cost, videoconferencing systems are employed by businesses, the need for Business-to-Business travel will be greatly reduced. Someone wanting a face-to-face with a client, or customer, will do so from his/her PC, using software now available, and high-speed links that are quickly coming into place around the country.

    Cultural sites and events(museums, art centers, performing arts events) can now be viewed online. Broadband will provide the platform by which content providers will create online content that will reduce the need to actually travel just to see a museum, or art collection. More people will be able to visit these sites/events, without actually travelling, via Broadband.

    Person-to-person visits also can be reduced with these same video links. Cellphones and other mobile computing devices will be capable of two-way video transmissions.

    So, why does California need a State government operated, taxpayer-funded HSR? Who will actually use it? Who will pay for it? It’s certainly clear that the passenger projections were based on the vision of the world where Broadband’s impact had not been considered. How can anyone really trust the HSR predictions, when the models ignored Broadband technologies being used throughout California, and the rest of the country?

    Without embracing broadband as an alternative to travel (meaning it will have a negative impact on any projections of future travel in the US), it is difficult to believe anything that the HSR Authority produces in terms of ridership projections.

  • ulno

    What a fiasco! Yet another centrally planned state-run and state-controlled travel system which will costs billions, serve few, and be subsidized for decades as it won’t pay for itself.

    There is a massive tide of voter discontent building. Next November, these commissars will be tossed and their plans too.

  • JoeCollins

    We can’t afford this fantasy. Back to basics – schools, roads, courts, jails.