California to Vote on High-Speed Rail Nov. 4

It goes without saying that the results of this year’s Election Day will determine the course of history in a big way. However, also on the ballot this November 4 in California will be a proposal that could very well influence the future of transportation in the US for years to come.

Voters in California will be asked to decide on Proposition 1A, a $10 billion bond measure for high-speed rail in California. The biggest single infrastructure project ever built in the US, the 800 mile high-speed rail line would link northern and southern California. This video, from KQED in San Francisco, takes a closer look at some of the environmental aspects of the revolutionary plan.

california high speed rail map

According to plans, the trip between downtown LA and downtown San Francisco by high-speed train would take about two and a half hours, and cost around $55. Funding for the $40 billion project would be split three ways between the state, the federal government and the private sector. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger supports the plan, but others point to CA's budgetary problems and the global credit crunch as proof that the state is too broke to take on such an extravagant project.

The plan fits in nicely with recent initiatives to curb the sprawl that covers so much of the state, and could serve as a model of green collar job creation for the next administration in Washington.

If approved, the project would constitute something of a paradigm shift for transportation planning in the United States, and could help avoid the business-as-usual scenario of LA-style sprawl and smog. Although Europe and Asia have had high-speed rail for decades, the US has no significant high-speed rail infrastructure.

For more info, check out the California High-Speed Rail Authority's website, as well as state assemblywoman Fiona Ma's High Speed Rail for California site, and some of the blogs arguing for and against the project.

More on high-speed rail:
The TH Interview: Andy Kunz
High-Speed Passenger Rail Comes to the Americas
Europe's High-Speed Train Networks Continue to Expand

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