Following years of debate, state senators have approved $8 billion for the first phase construction of California’s much anticipated high-speed train from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
The ‘bullet train’, a massive infrastructure approved by California voters in a 2008 referendum, is expected to reach speeds up to 220 miles an hour (355kph) at an overall estimated price of $68 billion.
Senators voted 21-16 on Friday to allocate $5.8 for the initial construction of 130 miles of track in the state’s Central Valley between Los Angeles and Sacramento. The cost includes $2.6 billion in rail bonds, $3.2 billion in federal funds with an additional $2 billion to improve existing tracks.
According to reports, supporters for the project say the high-speed train will ease intercity traveling, reduce environmental damage, create thousands of jobs and help relieve the state’s dependence for foreign oil.
RELATED ARTICLES ON CONSTRUCTION DIGITAL
Critics have described the infrastructure as ‘an overpriced white elephant’ and all 15 Republicans voted again the project’s funding in response to budget concerns and forced cuts within the state.
An editorial by Examiner.com questions whether the state can afford to spend millions on high-speed trains that potentially “no one will ride.”
Recent studies reveal conflicting reports as to whether the project will rejuvenate the state’s need for better transit options.
A public poll, released in June by the Los Angeles Times and USC indicated seven in 10 commuters would “never or hardly ever” ride the new system.
In a study at the Journal of Urban Economics, Dutch researchers Christiaan Behrens and Eric Pels Dutch used their models of the Paris-London corridor to consider the potential success of California's high-speed rail.
The finding reveal that if the high train can make full trips within 3 hours from Los Angeles to San Francisco it will gain approximately 40 percent of the leisure market and a third of business-related travelers.
Construction must start before December 31 or the state will lose all federal funding for the project. If constructed, California will be the first state in the nation to build a high-speed rail system to connect urban centers.