Clean Transport

Published on June 27th, 2013 | by Andrew Meggison


California High-Speed Rail Is Moving Forward

June 27th, 2013 by  

This article first appeared on Gas2.

california high-speed rail

California’s high-speed rail project has gotten the green light to begin even with many political obstacles still on the table.

The overseeing board of the California high-speed rail project has said that the first 65-mile stretch of rail between Fresno and Merced will be exempt from the requirement that railway construction first obtain prior approval from the federal board.

The reason for this decision to skip the federal board approval was in part caused by a massive lobbying campaign to get the high-speed rail construction under way. In other words, JOBS JOBS JOBS! In short, this is a massive win for labor unions and, long term, this decision will reduce the time before citizens in California will have access to a high-speed rail system.

Given that the California high-speed rail project has $3.5 billion in funding from tax payers’ dollars there are of course objectors to the decision. The concerns range from environmental impact to good old dollars and cents. A recent bill from the transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee has actually proposed allocating no funds for the California high-speed rail project through 2014. Well, as it turns out, the California high-speed rail project was not expecting any further funding in 2014 anyhow, so that’s obviously just political grandstanding.

As for the environmental concerns, they are still valid. Environmental impact reports have shown that an estimated eleven endangered species would be affected by the overall California high-speed rail project. Massive emissions from diesel-powered heavy equipment used to lay the track would pollute the air. Dozens of rivers, canals, and wetlands fed from the peaks of the Sierra Nevada would be crossed and could create other complex issues.

The issue here is that this would be from the overall California high-speed rail project. Thankfully, that means there is time to deal with and fix these possible issues in an environmentally friendly way while still moving forward with the advancement of American high-speed rail.


Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison

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About the Author

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor's Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master's Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison

  • Wayne Williamson

    Of course Florida(gov Rick Scott) rejected any funds…this was a stimulus to put Americans to work and provide tangible benefits in the long run.

    • I know, so freakin’ depressing. Even went against the FL business community… in order to prove a stupid as hell Tea Party point. Ugh, was so looking forward to that line.

  • Not Made of Money

    I fail to see the benefit of high speed to go a total of 65 miles. $3.5 Billion to do it? what’s the ROI (return on investment) for taxpayers, aside from a handful getting a speedy commute to work or a business meeting at a highly subsidized rate?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Are you so Foxinated that you aren’t aware that we’re building HSR between SF and LA with Sac and the rest of the Valley included?

      You aren’t aware that if we don’t then we’re going to have to add lanes to I5 and build new, larger airports to move people around the state?

      Come on. Pick up your game. You’re information light.

      Give this a read….

      • Ivor O’Connor

        I would like to wait until Elon speaks up Bob. He said he’d give us the plans for the “hyper-loop” soon after getting back from vacation. The hyper-loop he says would cost 1/10 the price and get us there much faster. Under an hour.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Possible. Elon has been pretty impressive to date.

          But Elon would have no trouble getting Jerry Brown on the phone. If he has something significantly faster and cheaper it seems he would have brought Brown on board long ago.

        • paqza

          We’ve read all about the HyperLoop and it simply doesn’t look realistic at this point. It’s a technology that we could implement in 30 or so years and at a much higher cost than just laying rails. HSR has 50 years of success under its belt at this point.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The group working on the Hyperloop expects to have a working section in about a year. If it works, if there aren’t significant unsolved problems then we could be looking at much faster implementation.

            It’s best to not “believe” too much in a novel idea, but some do work. If the Hyperloop is one of the workable ideas then we’d be looking at a transportation system that would be much cheaper than HSR and would travel at close to 800 MPH. On electricity. A real airplane replacer.

          • paqza

            I’m excited. Disruptive innovation is the best kind of innovation.

    • James Leno

      The benefit to taxpayers is that those 65 miles are the first to be built in the entire 800 mile system. Don’t mistake the start of construction to be the end of the project.

      When the project is completed, the two most populous regions in the state, and the central valley, will all be connected seamlessly on the same transit system. That will increase business activity, improve quality of life, and thus benefit the taxpayers.

      • Bob_Wallace

        More nicely put than my reply, James.

    • paqza

      It’s a first phase. The network will expand, and as it does, the financial case will become more and more obvious. It will also create new suburbs, revitalizing communities along the route as people realize that their commute is now feasible.

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