This is a project made for a huge state like California with significant north/south traffic, and we are happy to se it approved, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.
California is short of money, but learning to privatize—through contracts with nonprofits or forprofits—nonessential elements of government will do more to right the ship than not doing important transportation projects like this.
“By a bare majority, the state Senate voted Friday to approve initial construction on California’s $68 billion high-speed rail project, ending months of intense lobbying and uncertainty in the Legislature.
“The approval was a major legislative victory for Gov. Jerry Brown, who lobbied lawmakers before the vote and celebrated with Democratic legislative leaders off the Senate floor immediately after.
“The outcome was uncertain as recently as hours before the vote. With all 15 Republican senators opposing the measure and several Democratic lawmakers wavering, the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg scrambled to muster at least 21 of 25 Democratic votes.
“Twenty-one Democratic senators voted “yes.”
“This is one of the hardest votes that I’ve ever worked on,” Steinberg said. “I think what we did today is going to be seen over many years, and many decades, as a turning point in California, a time when we decided to say ‘yes’ to hope, ‘yes’ to progress, ‘yes’ to the future.”
“Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the Democratic governor “talked to a couple members” ahead of the vote, while Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, reminded colleagues that the project not only had Brown’s attention, but also that of President Barack Obama and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Steinberg said he knew just before the floor vote that four Democratic senators would oppose the bill.
“There was no room to spare,” he said. “Had to get everybody else.”
“The bill, approved the previous day by the state Assembly, authorizes $5.8 billion to start construction in the Central Valley, including $2.6 billion in rail bond funds and $3.2 billion from the federal government.
“Lawmakers tied that money to nearly $2 billion in funding to improve regional rail systems and connect them to high-speed rail. That regional focus was considered necessary to lobby hesitant senators about the project’s potential significance to their districts.”