Gov. Schwarzenegger urged to spare rail-design funding

Millions of state dollars that would fund the design of a high-speed rail system are at stake today as a project that would taketrain passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just two and a half hours reaches a crucial crossroads.

San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, Mayor Gavin Newsom and former Supervisor Quentin Kopp turned out Thursday at the Transbay Terminal, the proposed high-speed rail terminal in The City, to publicly send a message to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Don’t cut the $15.5 million in the state budget for high-speed rail design work.

Supporters want the design work to be finished in time for a $9.95 billion bond measure in November 2008 that would help fund the estimated $40 billion project. State legislators have postponed a statewide vote on the bond twice before, in 2004 and 2006.

Today, Schwarzenegger is expected to sign off on the state budget, after implementing $700 million in cuts.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority board, which has spent the last 10 years working on the project, had requested $103 million for the design work, while Schwarzenegger proposed just under $1.2 million. State legislators subsequently set aside $15.5 million for the board.

“If it’s $1,159,000, I’ll be saying, ‘See you later,’” said Kopp, who chairs the board. “We need real dollars to pay engineers to design, and real dollars to pay the environmental analysts.”

Ma, who has fought for the funding, said the board’s work would make the bond “a better initiative if we can actually lay it all out for folks.” It would also strengthen the measure, which Newsom said would likely be campaigned against by airline companies.

High-speed rail, which would create trains zipping along at 200 miles per hour, is hailed by supporters as a way to reduce traffic congestion, cut down on carbon emissions, reduce waits at the airport and foster economic growth in the region.

The board is holding public hearings in the region that will help it decide the path the rail will take from the Central Valley to the Bay Area. A decision is to be made by the end of the year.

High-speed rail is envisioned to connect to the Transbay Terminal at Mission and First streets. The City is considering three different proposals for a rebuild of the terminal to transform it into a state-of-the-art transit center.

With the state funding, if voters approve the bond, “we can assure Californians that within 8 to 11 years after we commence construction, we will indeed be in Los Angeles in two and a half hours from here,” Kopp said.

jsabatini@examiner.com


Do you think high-speed rail should be a priority?

Share your comments below.

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Outdoor dining, as seen here at Mama’s on Washington Square in North Beach in September, is expected to resume in San Franisco this week. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to reopen outdoor dining, personal services

San Francisco will allow outdoor dining and other limited business activity to… Continue reading

Ian Jameson (center) organized a group of tenant rights activists and assembled at the El Monte City Hall to demand that the City Council there pass an eviction moratorium barring all evictions during the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, March 29, 2020. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
California would extend eviction protections to June 30 under proposal

Legislation released Monday would also subsidize rent for low-income tenants

A statue of Florence Nightingale outside the Laguna Honda Hospital is one of only two statues of women in The City. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
S.F. still falling short of goal to represent women in public art

City has few streets or public facilities not named after men

U.S. President Joe Biden has approved orders related to sex, gender and sexual identity discrimination in his first days in office. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Biden reverses Trump’s ban on transgender individuals in military

By Joe Dworetzky Bay City News Foundation President Joe Biden on Monday… Continue reading

A server greets diners in a Shared Spaces outdoor dining area outside Napper Tandy’s Irish pub at 24th Street and South Van Ness Avenue in the Mission District on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. San Francisco could choose to resume outdoor dining in the wake of a state decision to lift a regional stay-at-home order. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders lifted as ICU capacity improves

Change in rules could allow outdoor dining to resume in San Francisco

Most Read