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November 8, 2011 > High-Speed Rail's 2012 draft business plan

High-Speed Rail's 2012 draft business plan

Submitted By Rachel Wall

In 2008, California voters approved a high-speed rail project. Now, Governor Jerry Brown has challenged California to think big again.

The release of the High-Speed Rail Draft Business Plan is a cornerstone of that challenge and shows how this statewide transportation network will create more than 100,000 jobs in the next five years and more than 1 million over the course of its construction in California.

It is a business plan for Californians who want jobs and cleaner air and who know the existing transportation infrastructure cannot support the state's population growth. It also keeps California at the forefront of technology, innovation and in the global economy.

The new business plan recognizes that the project will be built one step at a time and that each of those building blocks, while moving toward a statewide whole, will bring value to the regions served. The plan reflects honest, realistic and credible financial assumptions to guide project decisions.

The first step is the construction of a 130-mile stretch in the Central Valley for about $6 billion, using already identified funding and breaking ground in less than a year, with completion in 2017.

The second step is to extend this initial construction either north, connecting Bakersfield to San Jose, or south, connecting Merced to the San Fernando Valley. If the decision is made to build south first, this will cost $27 billion and be completed in 2021. This is also the point at which trains will generate revenues from initial passenger service and the project will be able to attract private capital to help fund further expansions of the system.

Further steps include building the remaining sections needed to create a "Bay to Basin" system that connects San Jose to the San Fernando Valley.

New construction and future improvements to Caltrain in the Bay Area and Metrolink in Southern California will blend these services with the high-speed rail system to make possible a "one-seat ride" from San Francisco to Los Angeles. This "blended" system will utilize upgraded existing regional rail services and will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles and Anaheim. The goal is to complete this part of the system several years earlier than the full system and reduce the overall cost estimate by $20 billion. Extending dedicated high-speed rail service into downtown San Francisco and LA/Anaheim may cost $98 billion over 20 years.

Although the costs are high, the challenges facing California are also huge. Efficient movement of people and goods throughout the State is essential to the California's economy and quality of life; doing nothing in the face of exponential population growth is not an option. Without high-speed rail, the state will face much larger and more serious environmental and economic threats to the quality of life and struggle to expand freeways and airports to keep up with the growing needs of the population.

Read about California's plan for the future of this project at http://tinyurl.com/3nq4cvs, then provide the California High Speed Rail Authority with feedback and comment at http://tinyurl.com/6tndf73

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