The ever dreadful trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco is made even worse when traveling through the Interstate-5, which is surrounded by manure.
Luckily, the state is in the process of developing plans to construct a high-speed rail (HSR) system that would link Southern California and Northern California, providing a more efficient travel.
In 2008 California voters passed Proposition 1A, thus approving $9.95 billion in initial funding for the HSR. The project would become an alternative form of travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
The proposition first passed with an approval rate of 52.7 percent of voters supporting the measure. After five years, public opinion has changed quite a bit.
A poll conducted by USC Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times shows that more people are beginning to oppose the project, shifting the public opinion.
Now only 43 percent of people are in favor of building the HSR, while 52 percent of people are opposed to the idea.
The HSR provides a quicker alternative to traveling on land, with a trip clocking in at approximately two and a half hours. The only faster alternative would be to travel by air.
Critics of the HSR often bring up the hefty price tag of the project in order to deter construction.
While the estimated cost of the completed project is a concern, considering California already has several underfunded programs, it still shouldn’t stop the HSR from being built.
The estimated cost of the HSR has swung back and forth in the past couple of years. The initial projection estimated a cost of $35 billion in 2008, but the cost increased to $99 billion two years later.
Recently, a new proposed plan reduced the cost to $68 billion. In order to cut costs, the new proposal will recycle already established rails with the new high-speed rails that are set to be built.
And it won’t be only California picking up the tab on this project. Along with funding from the state, the HSR will receive additional funding from the federal government as well as private investors.
Federal funding has already accounted for nearly $5 billion. This money comes from general federal funding, money allocated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and from the Department of Transportation.
When the project is completed, the California High-Speed Rail Authority predicts that the direct route from Los Angeles to San Francisco will generate a net-operating revenue of $2.23 billion.
Along with this, the project estimates that by the time the Los Angeles to San Francisco route is operational, it will generate 66,000 jobs annually for the following 15 years.
The HSR will also have beneficial impacts on the environment. When the initial section of the HSR is completed in 2022, the Authority estimates that the train will result in a reduction of 100,000 to 300,000 million metric tons of carbon emission in the first year.
To put that into perspective, the carbon emission reduction would be the same as taking 17,700 to 53,000 cars off the road.
The state of California is growing, and it’s growing quickly. Right now, California has a population of 38 million, by 2030 the population is expected to grow to 50 million.
In order to keep up with that growing population, California would have to invest $150 billion to build 4,300 new-lanes miles of highway along with 115 additional gates of California airports and four new airport runways, according to the Authority.
Building the HSR would alleviate the need to build new highway miles since it would be on its own track and people would ride the train instead of their own car. When put into perspective, the $68 billion that it would cost to build the HSR seems like a much better idea.
It will be a difficult task to build an entirely new train system, especially when it costs so much. But sometimes certain risks need to be taken to see a positive emerge.
If nobody took risks on infrastructure projects, then cities and states would have never modernized.
Why would roads need to be constructed when there were perfectly good dirt trails? What was the need for cars when horses were reliable enough. While this train isn’t an entirely new invention, it’s something that will help California and the United States catch up with foreign countries and propel the state into a new age.