An audience of construction workers and state and local government officials gathered at Union Station to watch Gov. Jerry Brown sign a bill that will enable the state to break ground on a $68 billion high-speed rail line. The train would be the first one like it in the nation, connecting the Southland with San Francisco, with construction beginning in the Central Valley. The Sacramento Bee reports:
“To gain political support for the project in the state’s most densely populated areas, the administration also included $1.9 billion in state rail bond proceeds to improve urban rail systems and connect them to high-speed rail.”
Governor Brown said the project will create jobs and build an infrastructure for millions of new residents expected in the state in coming decades. The state Legislature passed the law on July 6th, authorizing the state to spend about $8 billion on the first phase of the rail line. But the governor may still have some convincing to do. Central Valley farmers have been in court challenging the first leg of the bullet train and polls show that some voters who approved it four years ago have changed their minds.
KCRW’s Saul Gonzalez asked the governor at this morning’s signing if there was anything that would get him to change his mind about the wisdom of high-speed rail in California. Standing at Union Station, Gov. Brown responded, “Well, should we tear down the Golden Gate Bridge, or the BART system, or the light rail? This building was empty — I was here in 1975 as governor and there was nobody here. Now the place has 60,000 people a day. As we bring 10 or 20 million more people to California, we can’t do it all through airplanes, we can’t do it all through freeways, we need transit just like Europe, just like China, just like Japan. This is the future. Fearful men stand aside, we’re going forward.”
METRO has plans to make Union Station a hub for High Speed Rail and other transit systems and METRO’s plans go well beyond Union Station itself. Two architectural firms have been hired to draw plans for 38 acres around the building. We’ll hear more on this on tonight’s Which Way LA?