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Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Fund the First Phase of California's High-Speed Rail

Brown says the project is about creating jobs and building an infrastructure to accommodate millions of new residents expected in the state in coming decades.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law today to fund the first phase of a $68 billion, first-in-the nation high-speed rail line connecting the Southland with San Francisco.

The governor signed the bill before an audience of construction workers and state and local government officials gathered at Union Station downtown.

The law passed by the state Legislature on July 6 authorizes the state to spend about $8 billion on the first phase of the rail line, including hundreds of millions of dollars for transit projects in Southern California and an expansion of Los Angeles' Union Station.

The projects will be funded by $2.6 billion in rail bonds passed by California voters in 2008 and $3.2 billion in federal funds for a 130-mile stretch of track allowing trains to travel from Madera to Bakersfield at 220 miles per hour. The bill also includes about $2 billion in funding for projects in the Bay Area and Los Angeles County.

Brown told the audience the project was about creating jobs and building an infrastructure to accommodate millions of new residents expected in the state in coming decades.

"In the midst of this recession, we're putting thousands of people to work," Brown said.

He called critics of the plan "declinists ... who say California's best days are behind us. That's not true. We're building the future."

The law greenlighted the spending of $115 million for the downtown regional connector, an underground light rail that will enable riders to get around Los Angeles County without having to transfer to different trains. Another $350 million will be available to pay for a major expansion of Union Station to allow trains to travel in two directions from the station. Under the existing configuration, trains leave in the same direction they enter.

Supporters say the project will create thousands of construction jobs. But critics argue the estimated $68 billion project has nearly doubled in cost and changed significantly from the plan voters approved in 2008. The original price tag was $40 billion.

The High Speed Rail Authority scaled the plan down to upgrade and use existing rail infrastructure around Los Angeles and San Francisco rather than build new tracks in the metro areas.

"Closing schools for three weeks, while spending $8 billion on 130 miles of train tracks, defies logic and is irresponsible," said Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar.

High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard said construction would begin on track in the Central Valley in the next year.

"Five years from now, we will have completed the spine of the first high-speed rail system in the United States of America," Richard said. "Ten years from today, through this station, you'll be able to get on the high speed rail train and, by noon, (be) hiking up the trail of Yosemite to Half-Dome."

Brown was scheduled to hold a second signing ceremony in San Francisco this afternoon.

Current high-speed rail plans have the train traveling through the San Fernando Valley, eventually with stops in Burbank and Sylmar.

HearyehHearyeh July 22, 2012 at 10:05 PM
@ SZ is that the Creative Public Finance class that you speak of or the one titled " How to divert funds from their intended targets without voter approval"?
HearyehHearyeh July 26, 2012 at 05:47 PM
@ Conerned, Sorry I didn't get back to your comment on my supposed spelling error sooner. I did check the spelling for Bye and By as it relates to your critcism and.... guess what, it appears that, heaven forbid my Webster's NEW Collegiate Dictionary with a 1981 publish date on it says you loose, either spelling is correct. So you and Paul B have something in common, lucky you! Next time chucker, check your sources as on this one your grammer is at least 31 years behind the curve. Bye!
HearyehHearyeh July 26, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Good research C.A., also the building of the Transcontinental Railroad turned a profit immediately... This does not bode well for Paul B's comment about the Bullit Train's posting a profit...RIP P.B.! It's a shame as good research might have prevented this unfortunate prediction. LOL
Concerned July 27, 2012 at 04:07 AM
By your rudeness, HearyehHearyeh, I think I can guess to which political party you belong.
HearyehHearyeh July 27, 2012 at 03:24 PM
@ Concerned, you've already guessed and been wrong once, go ahead, bet you can't!

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