High Speed Rail Gets Strong Support at Senate Hearing
Supporters of high-speed rail, including construction workers, business groups, transportation advocates and many others, urged legislators to support the bullet train at a Legislative Budget hearing in Mountain View Tuesday evening.
Holding signs reading, "We Want High-Speed Rail" "HSR is California's Future" and "HSR= Jobs", supporters held a rally before the hearing at which they stressed the need for the Legislature to approve initial bond funding to begin construction in the Central Valley.
Supporters stressed how important the bullet train is to California's transportation future. The project is needed to meet California's growing population and mobility needs, but there are societal benefits such as improved transportation, cleaner air, congestion relief and connecting the state's economic centers that will improve Californians quality of life.
On top of that, immediate benefits include thousands of jobs created in the construction sector and increased economic activity throughout the state.
Local leaders all expressed their support for the plan:
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed: "We appreciate efforts to continue studying alternatives that will allow early investment in projects in the Bay Area, such as electrification in the corridor. Improving the connections between our state's economic and tourist centers will create jobs and benefit the entire high-speed rail system."
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee: "To maintain our global economic competitiveness, we must re-commit our investment to infrastructure. California high-speed rail will cultivate greater traveland tourism in our State, cut greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and reduce dramatically our dependence on oil. By reducing congestion on our freeways and highways, at our airports and on commuter transit, we will create jobs and grow a greener economy."
Neil Struthers, Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council: "Our forefathers had the vision and wisdom to invest in our infrastructures at critical points in our state and nation's history. They demonstrated vision during our most economically challenging times, and they built vital infrastructure like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge and BART. Today, we can't imagine the Bay Area transportation system without them. The high-speed rail system is no different. Not only will it fundamentally change mobility and travel in California and the Bay Area, it will create thousands of jobs."
Jim Lazarus, Senior Vice President, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce: "With high-speed rail, the Bay Area is given the opportunity to jump-start long planned regional transit improvements. High-speed rail dollars are already funding construction of the San Francisco's new TransBay Transit Center. These same sources can fund CalTrain electrification and the already approved underground rail extension to First and Mission Streets. In addition to improving the Bay Area's transportation infrastructure, this construction activity will boost our economy when we need it most and provide sustainable growth for decades to come."
Carl Guardino, CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group: "High-Speed Rail is the right move for California's mobility and economy. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group applauds the decision to embrace a ‘blended approach' for HSR and Caltrain along the Peninsula, as maintaining and improving the Caltrain commuter rail system is a high priority for our 365-member companies. A project of this scale will never be ready to everyone's satisfaction, and delaying the project just puts off - and increases - the cost to us and to future generations."
Jim Earp, Executive Director, California Alliance for Jobs: "The high-speed rail project is one of those transformative projects that will have as much of an impact on California and its economy as the railroads and the State Water Project. It will produce thousands of jobs, boost the economy, provide a greener and faster mode of transportation and will help California meet its growing transportation needs."
Daniel Krause, co-founder and executive director, Californians for High Speed Rail: "The California High Speed Rail project is absolutely essential to California's future, from providing desperately needed transportation capacity to clean our air, to reducing congestion and stimulating economic activity. While opponents have been running a relentless campaign of fear, doubt and uncertainty to give the impression the project is too risky, in fact, there is far more risk in not moving forward. It will cost much more to expand airports and freeways to create the same amount of transportation capacity. Additionally, borrowing costs will be offset by the requirement that any Prop 1A used must be matched by non-state source of funds, injecting billions of outside dollars into our state's economy. It is time to set the record straight - high-speed rail is truly the low-risk alternative."
Jim Homer, Laborers Local 270: "High speed rail is the most ambitious project California has embarked on in many years. It's cost-effective, it will bring our state thousands of jobs, enduring economic benefits and environmental and social benefits. We can't stop now."
Bill Nack, San Mateo Building & Construction Trades Council: "We need high speed rail. It is a smart investment in California's future. We need it to accommodate our growing population. We need it to reduce congestion. We need it to help clean our air. We need it to create jobs and economic activity. High speed rail also will be more cost effective than building more roads and airports to move the same number of people. High-speed rail is a smart, visionary investment and it should go forward."
Jim Wunderman, CEO & President, Bay Area Council: "High speed rail can be an economic game changer for California and the Bay Area, where it will bring badly needed upgrades to this region's important Caltrain commuter rail service. High speed rail will create fast, efficient connections among our state's major economic centers and link California to the 21st Century in a way that will keep us economically competitive with the rest of the world. There are many risks, which we believe the High Speed Rail Authority and Governor Brown take very seriously and are working hard to address. But the risk to California's future of not moving forward is greater."
Mark Kyle, Operating Engineers, Local 3: "High speed rail is a project we need in California. We need the rail line for mobility and to accommodate our growing population, but we also need the jobs that will come with constructing it. With unemployment in the construction trades hovering near 20 percent, the cost of doing nothing far outweighs the investment in this much-needed project."
John Martin, Airport Director, San Francisco International Airport: "San Francisco International Airport is a strong supporter of high speed rail in California. Passenger traffic atSFO is expected to grow to 50 million passengers by 2025. Currently, the Los Angeles Basin is the destination for 15% of the flights from SFO and 36% of flights from Oakland and San Jose. High speed rail will reduce the need for short-haul commuter flights and provide greater ability for SFO to accommodate international and long-haul domestic flights."
Rosanne Foust, President and CEO, San Mateo Economic Development Association:"When you consider the number of start up companies springing up in the Caltrain Corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, it becomes apparent that we must invest in the corridor if we are to maintain the economic vitality of our region and state."
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