I often say that there are no Democratic or Republican roads or bridges or rail lines, and that’s just as true now as it was when our parents and grandparents built the state-of-the-art interstate and freight rail systems we benefit from today. Unfortunately, some in Congress these days would rather score partisan political points than make the critical investments in transportation we need to put Americans back to work and leave our children and grandchildren an economy built to last.
But the American people themselves clearly understand the importance of investing in essential transportation projects like high-speed rail, as I was reminded when I traveled across California this week meeting with folks from many different walks of life. And despite what you may have heard, momentum is building in California for this essential project that will relieve congestion on roadways and runways and make sure the Golden State can continue to grow and thrive.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Villaraigosa and I met with local business and transit leaders, who are excited about the potential for high-speed rail to connect residents to jobs and spur economic growth throughout the region. Leaders of organized labor in Sacramento told me they are eager to get to work building the infrastructure California needs to compete in the modern economy. And when I met with Governor Brown, I thanked him for his visionary leadership on this project, and promised that the Obama Administration would continue to work with him to provide all Californians with the state-of-the-art transportation system they deserve.
To be fair, some of the folks I met with still had concerns about high speed rail. In Fresno, for instance, Mayor Swearengin and I met with farmers and small businesses owners who wanted to know how the new rail line might affect their property. I answered their questions, and committed to working closely with them to address their concerns moving forward.
As I told them, I’m happy to discuss high-speed rail with anyone for one simple reason: the facts are on our side.
America's population is growing. In the next 40 years, we're going to add 100 million people. That's like adding another California, Texas, New York, and Florida combined. But without adding a single square inch of extra space.
That means we can only add so many miles of highway and so many feet of runway, not nearly enough to help us get where we need to go. If we don't act, we will sacrifice the mobility that has always been so important to our nation. If we don't act, we will sacrifice the competitiveness that is so critical to our economy.
So, we're taking the steps we need to ensure that America stays in motion for generations to come.
We’ve already put American workers on Amtrak and rail job-sites in 32 states and the District of Columbia. Projects in Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, and Vermont are coming in ahead of schedule and under budget. At the same time, we’re supporting jobs at manufacturing plants in industrial states like Indiana and at suppliers in states like Arizona and Arkansas. And everything--from tracks, to ties, to train sets, to construction materials for new stations--is being built by American workers.
Photo courtesy KMPH
This is the future of rail in America, and it's happening now. It's happening on emerging corridors. It's happening on busy regional service. And it's happening on the high-speed core in California.
Over the past week, I have traveled all over the Golden State. And I have found a strong base of support for the California high speed rail project--from the workers who will build it, to the manufacturers that will supply the trains to run on it, and the businesses that will benefit from using it. California has a good plan; there's new leadership on the California High Speed Rail Authority; and I look forward to working with Governor Brown to make this project as successful as possible.
High speed rail is coming to America because it's good for the economy and good for the nation.