Friday's vote by the California legislature to move forward with high-speed rail is terrific news for the people of California. I congratulate the Legislature on taking this action, which will create thousands of jobs and strengthen the California economy. And I am grateful for the leadership of Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, House Speaker John Pérez, California High Speed Rail Authority Chair Dan Richards, and the Authority's CEO Jeff Morales.
In the next 20 years, California expects more than 7 million additional residents. But, as the state's residents know all too well, the highways between California cities are already congested, and short-haul takeoff and landing slots at Golden State airports are at a premium.
No economy--whether local, state, or national--can grow faster than its transportation network allows. And a transportation network that stalls the movement of goods and people can cause businesses and markets to relocate elsewhere, bringing widespread economic suffering within a community or state.
That's why California High Speed Rail remains such an important priority for the state's business, labor, and transportation communities.
Californians know they need a new option for inter-city travel, and they know that option is high-speed rail. As the San Francisco Chronicle said, "It is a needed and essential part of the state's future."
The Governor knows it; California’s mayors know it. And now, the State Legislature has signaled that they know it, too.
Ultimately, California High Speed Rail will deliver passengers safely and reliably between San Francisco Bay and the Los Angeles Basin in less than three hours, setting a very competitive bar for high speed rail in the U.S.
In the 1800s, Californians launched a railroad that extended eastward from the ports of the Pacific Ocean and eventually became part of the Transcontinental Railroad. Seventy-five years ago, Californians embraced a bold vision and delivered another stunning transportation achievement--the Golden Gate Bridge--that charted the way for the rest of the nation.
Last Friday's vote continues that bold tradition, and I look forward to seeing the first shovels put to dirt on this important project soon.