In November, Californians voted in favor of 800 miles of high-speed rail connecting cities throughout the state. The initiative promised major reductions in CO2 emissions and tons of new jobs, but the major drawback has been the hefty $10 billion price tag.
Californians should have felt some relief today as President Obama signed the stimulus bill that includes $9.3 billion in incentives for high-speed and intercity rail projects. Last Thursday, it was announced that California's high-speed rail project was eligible for assistance from the stimulus package, although an exact amount has yet to be allocated. Although voters approved the rail project, tax payers have been skeptical about the amount of the cost they'll be responsible for. Also, many people have criticized the 22-year schedule for building the rail system. An influx of federal money may help on both fronts - the tax burden may be lessened and construction may be able to move forward more quickly.
The $9.3 billion allotted for rail systems is actually an increase from the Senate version of the bill and is separate from $8.4 billion assigned to public transit agencies in the bill. Congress has definitely been responding to the growing need for mass transit and the money in the stimulus bill has the potential to do a lot of good in California and beyond.
written by BruceMcF, February 18, 2009
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