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July 10, 2012 > Garamendi opposes Denham amendment on ACE high speed rail corridor

Garamendi opposes Denham amendment on ACE high speed rail corridor

Submitted By Donald Lathbury

Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a former Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and author of legislation, in the 1980s, that laid the groundwork for high-speed rail in California, has criticized Congressman Jeff Denham's (R-Turlock) work to sabotage transit priorities in Fairfield, Davis, Sacramento, Livermore, Tracy, Manteca, Stockton and throughout the Tri-Valley and Bay Area. Denham's amendment passed by a 239-185 vote, with 235 Republicans in favor and 183 Democrats opposed.

Denham's amendment to the Surface Transportation Authorization Act removes all new federal funding from high-speed rail, which compromises the Altamont Commuter Express' (ACE) ambitions to construct a multi-purpose, high-speed rail/commuter/freight transit corridor that could be completed years before the state-wide California High-Speed Rail plan. The Central Valley, despite having the largest population growth in the state, has traditionally received less transit funding from state and federal coffers.

The Capitol Corridor, the fourth busiest Amtrak route in the country servicing diverse communities from San Jose to Auburn, including the Suisun/Fairfield station in Garamendi's district, could also be harmed by Denham's amendment. The Capitol Corridor has received millions in federal high-speed rail funds and would serve as an important access point for thousands of commuters once California High-Speed Rail is completed.

"I've always seen transit as an inter-connected state-wide priority. We should work together to develop transit solutions helping all California communities," Congressman Garamendi said. "At a minimum, we should bear in mind the transit needs of the communities we represent. I don't understand why Congressman Jeff Denham is leading the fight to imperil transit priorities in his own district and in mine.

"Investments in transit are investments in good local jobs. Congressman Denham just gave a pink slip to hundreds of workers in Livermore, Tracy, Manteca, Stockton and neighboring communities," added Garamendi.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has identified the Altamont Rail Corridor as a critical element to regional transportation needs and wants to improve regional ACE service in the near term. The ultimate goal is joint use of the ACE rail system to accommodate inter-city and commuter service and freight rail. Denham's amendment could delay this project for years or even kill it.

The most recent economic plan for California High-Speed Rail calls for an integrated transit network "blending" the system with ACE in the Central Valley, Caltrain in the Bay Area and Metrolink in Los Angeles. This new approach could help reduce construction costs by a third.

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