High speed rail crawls forward

The California Senate joined the Assembly in passing SB 1029, which funds the first part of the California High Speed Rail system (see SacBee: California high-speed rail gets green light), using both state bond issue and federal transportation funds. The high speed part will be the Madera to Bakersfield section in the central valley (or just short of those end points), and there will be improvements not as clearly defined to the bay area and southern California rail networks, and may include electrification of Caltrain on the bay area peninsula. Of course all Republicans were opposed. I assume they just don’t like public money spent on things that don’t have to do with cars, their favorite welfare recipient. They claim that there isn’t money for it, but there seems to be money for highways.

It will be a long while before the system is done, and service to Sacramento is presumably at the tail end of the system. It may not ever be completed with the original vision, but I do think it will be completed, and will be one of the best things California has ever done for itself.

The central valley focus does not make many people happy, but the federal government essentially forced this on the state, saying they wouldn’t provide money if it didn’t start there. I don’t really understand their reasoning, but so be it. I also have concerns about where the line will go from Bakersfield. The rail authority has designated a route through Palmdale, even though no one wants to go to Palmdale, which is longer in both miles and time than a route over or under the Grapevine. On the northern end, the selected route goes through Pacheco Pass to pick up San Jose, which is at least more logical, but then faces the NIMBY towns on the peninsula to get to San Francisco. Another route across Altamont Pass was rejected but may not be completely dead – there is now a branch line over Altamont, the same route as the current Altamont Commuter Express (ACE), to serve Sacramento. Just to think outside the box, I actually think that a route directly across the bay bridge and into San Francisco might be the best. What are all those people doing driving across the bridge when they could be using public transportation? BART goes under the bay, why not additional options over the bay, on the bay bridge. Giving up a lane or two to rail traffic would be of benefit to all.

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