Today's release of the revised California high speed rail business plan is a victory for future passengers; it's a victory for the State of California; and it's a victory for the nation. But it's also a victory for the kind of inclusive planning and development process that Americans expect, and I hope it will serve as a powerful example for other corridors.
When the California High Speed Rail Authority released its initial plan last fall, stakeholders and citizens voiced their concerns--loud and clear. Thankfully, Governor Brown put in place leadership at the California High Speed Rail Authority that listened to Californians. After 296 community meetings and forums, today's plan reflects those concerns, and California --and American-- high-speed rail will be stronger as a result.
After listening carefully to everyone involved, the California High Speed Rail Authority today offered a new plan that lays out a faster, better, and more cost-effective path to building the high-speed rail system that is so critical to California’s economic future.
Thanks to the leadership of Governor Jerry Brown and High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard, the new plan will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and deliver the economic benefits of high-speed rail faster and more affordably. And by combining existing assets in the Bay Area and LA Basin with new construction along other parts of the line, the new plan ensures that construction and operating costs for the first segment of the project are fully paid for while lowering the cost of the entire system by $30 billion dollars.
The Central Valley line will operate over relatively flat terrain, making possible average speeds that rival any other rail systems in the world. The revitalized rail manufacturing this Administration's investments have supported will have workers busy building track and trains that demonstrate the American rail industry’s technological and operational capabilities--and get passengers where they're going even faster.
That's critical in a state where population will grow by 20 million in less than 40 years, where congestion already robs the state’s economy of $18.7 billion every year, and where the short-haul air travel market is the nation’s most crowded and the airports are the nation's most delayed.
Plus, putting men and women to work upgrading the infrastructure on existing commuter rail lines in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas will add good jobs in these densely populated regions. Metrolink and Caltrain commuters will also benefit from safety, speed, and reliability improvements.
Three years ago, the President declared a bold vision for America. The goal is clear: to connect 80 percent of Americans to a high speed rail network over the next twenty-five years.
And today we are making progress on that vision. As Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Karen Hedlund said, "This plan is a roadmap for the future of California, and it is right in line with the vision of President Obama."
California is well on its way to fulfilling its part of this goal, and today's revised plan moves the Golden State one step closer. We look forward to working with the California High Speed Rail Authority to make this plan a reality.