California Gov Jerry Brown signs High Speed Rail funding bill Photo Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown signs High Speed Rail funding bill. Photo: Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images.

California High Speed Rail going nowhere fast

An interesting editorial in the recent Wall Street Journal (California Bullet Train to Whenever) says the federally-supported High Speed Rail (HSR) under construction in the San Joaquin Valley is a boondoggle that should be derailed.

The fed has tossed $2.5 billion at California to build a bullet train from San Francisco to Anaheim, starting first in what WSJ calls the “less populated, shovel ready” San Joaquin Valley, conservative, and therefore with less political clout to oppose the money pit.

WSJ now says that was a big mistake because it has proven more difficult to shove HSR down the throats of the Central Valley. The farm boys have fought back politically and in the courts. Opponents have also convinced more than half of Californians that HSR is a mistake.

High speed rail is behind schedule and growing more costly each day. The fed wants to funnel more cash to California so it will move more quickly to comply with the spend-it-or-lose-it federal stimulus act.

Rather than give it more money, the nation’s leading business newspaper recommends that the Obama Administration pull the plug on the “choo-choo” to save taxpayer dollars and to let Democrats who now regret supporting HSR off the hook.

However, I believe California’s Democratic leadership is too egotistical to welcome extraction. It would rather break the bank than say uncle.

California desperately needs to move more freight by rail to get trucks off the road and get people out of cars and into mass transit/high speed rail/regular rail/planes/buses. California’s roads are rapidly deteriorating.

Based on what I have seen from CalTrans repair/upgrading efforts, money spent for mass transit would be better spent than it would be to restore California’s road system.

Differing with many Farm Press readers, I support high speed rail, or some kind of improved mass transit. There should be less costly alternatives to HSR. Something must be done to move people and freight more efficiently before California comes to a standstill.

This HSR debate brings to mind the early days of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART). It was vilified and laughingly called the “Little Train That Could.” Today, Bay Area residents and visitors would be lost without BART.

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