photo via KimonBerlin
When there is finally high-speed rail that connects Northern and Southern California, I'll be one of the first to buy a ticket. I've lived in the Golden State for almost four years, but I've never gone south of Monterey. No car, no LA weekend for me. Now it appears high-speed rail is one step closer to becoming a reality here after officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority yesterday voted to match $616 million in federal funds for high-speed rail. The money opened up Ohio and Wisconsin bailed, and now California is swooping in faster than a speeding locomotive to take the cash. There's now about $5.5 billion available to build the country's first bullet train. The first tracks will go down between Fresno to Bakersfield, not exactly vacation destinations but important towns in California's fertile middle area.
The money opened up after two Republican governors, Wisconsin's Scott Walker and Ohio's John Kasich, said the projects would leave their states on the hook for too many additional costs. Both campaigned against the projects and were comfortably elected.
Yet the loss for their states will be California's gain. While austerity might be Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year, embracing it is not going to lead the US into the 21st century and keep it competitive. China alone is spending $120 billion on new high-speed rail in 2011 and $300 billion by 2020. Check out this great slideshow at Time.com which details China's plans.