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Source : Wikipedia Commons
May 23, 2022
Author : Patty Allen
Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco is nearly 500 miles, and it can take commuters more than five or six hours to traverse the distance.
A once in a generation project is underway, a new High-Speed Bullet Train, that will cut that time in half. When exactly the project will be finished is still not clear.
In 2008, voters approved $10 billion in bonds for constructing the country’s first bullet train lines. The trains will be traveling at a speed of 200 miles per hour.
The new train network will be an economic boon for the state, connecting two of the country’s most populous regions. It will serve as a much-needed alternative to congested highways and airports, and as climate change becomes an ever more pressing concern.
The project is built on an ambitious scale with a cost estimate of $105 billion to cover 500 miles distance across the Central Valley and then eventually connect Anaheim, San Diego, and Sacramento. It’s billed as the single largest infrastructure investment in the state’s history.
Critics have called it a “major boondoggle that should be scrapped.” Yet creating an alternative to clogged automobile highways is popular among voters. Governor Gavin Newsom had requested $4.2 billion in project appropriation a year ago, but it is yet to be passed by the Assembly Democrats.
The original project deadline was to complete 520 miles of rail track by 2029. However, according to the High-Speed Rail Authority overseeing the construction, the first segment of the line between Bakersfield and Merced will be serviceable by 2030.
With a project of this size, further delays cannot be ruled out. This first segment of the line will be focused on the six million people of the three most significant cities in the Central Valley and the students of three major universities.
Giving the project a financial injection, the Biden administration has reinstated over a billion dollars in federal money that had been cut by the Trump administration.
Expenditure is the primary concern, especially as the state makes strong efforts at compliance oversight. Brain Kelly, the Executive Director of CHSRA (California High-Speed Rail Authority), said, “Given the costs, we have to do it in pieces,” The construction team aims to finish the project segment by segment. The project has got the environmental clearance for about 300 miles, with more segments up for approval in the coming years.
Although the project has faced a lot of criticism, it also remains popular and is having a significant economic impact on the population of California’s central valley, which has suffered from high unemployment rates. Over 7,000 jobs have been created due to the project. Hundreds of small businesses in the region have also benefited from the gargantuan project.