The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board passed a 2012 revised business plan that will provide for high-speed rail service within a decade, connect the state’s major metropolitan areas, utilize existing rail infrastructure in northern and southern California and provide earlier statewide benefits to commuters in the Bay Area and Los Angeles at a cost of $68.4 billion.
“I am pleased to announce today that the High-Speed Rail Authority has taken a huge step forward toward making a coordinated statewide transportation network a viable reality,” said Authority Board Chair Dan Richard.
The business plan was adopted with an amendment committing the Authority to work with transportation agencies in Orange County to identify cost-effective ways to enable a one-seat ride to and from Anaheim. As part of the amendment, the Southern California Passenger Rail Planning Coalition will consider options for a connection that will cost less and be less intrusive than a full-build connection enabling the one-seat ride to Anaheim.
“We now stand poised to have an operational high-speed passenger rail system within ten years,” said Board Member Mike Rossi. “By working with community leaders throughout the state we will begin construction soon on a smarter, more cost-effective transportation option for all Californians that reflects the direction mandated by voters in 2008 with the passage of Proposition 1A.”
The Board unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Southern California transportation agencies and MPOs. This document outlines a shared commitment to advance the development of high-speed rail while providing funding for local early investment projects in Southern California that will improve rail service immediately. This agreement is designed to set the stage for construction to begin on needed Southern California infrastructure projects as early as next year.
In another unanimous decision, the Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Northern California transportation entities. This would electrify the popular Caltrain commuter train from San Jose to San Francisco. The MOU, which has been approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, calls for local and regional entities to provide funding for just over half the $1.5 billion agreement. The Authority would provide $706 billion from 2008 Prop 1A bond monies.
Lynn Schenk, vice chair of the Authority Board and longtime proponent of high-speed rail, lauded the voice of youth represented by pro-high-speed rail groups such as UC Merced student group “I Will Ride,” whose founder spoke during the public comment period. Schenk said, “I am most encouraged by the energy and enthusiasm of young professionals, teens and twentysomethings who have made it clear that this is a project that will benefit their generation.”
Elected officials, advocacy groups and individuals overwhelmingly spoke in favor of the business plan at the meeting.
“I hope to see, in the near future, trains pulling through all the way from Los Angeles to the Central Valley, through Silicon Valley to San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal, which we believe to be the Grand Central Station of the West,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, speaking in favor of the business plan at the meeting.
“I appreciate that High-Speed Rail embraced the proposal for a blended system that Peninsula elected officials, namely Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, State Sen. Joe Simitian and Assemblyman Rich Gordon called for a year ago,” said Adrienne Tissier, who chairs the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrain and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.
The business plan adopted Thursday was shaped by public feedback drawn from nearly 300 statewide meetings with landowners, elected officials and the public, as well as 250 public comments received over a two and a half month comment period.