If a bond measure to construct a high-speed rail system were put on a California ballot today, it would be rejected soundly (59 percent), say the results of a Field Poll released in April 2012. Yet, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), California Democrats AND nitwit Republicans are eager to broker high speed rail pork to campaign contributors. Voters approved Prop 1A, based on estimated costs High-Speed Rail in California at $43 billion, with a rosy prediction of a 2020 completion date. But a new cost estimate (November 2011) more than doubled the eventual cost and duration of the construction phase, estimating it would cost $98 billion to build and take until 2033 to complete. But the band plays on as pols scramble to payoff their campaign donors.
Today, with strong bipartisan support, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1117 with a 31-3 vote, calling for the creation of a statewide passenger rail plan that will be used to guide California’s rail transportation policy decisions.
“This bill ensures that the plans of the high speed rail program are integrated into the commuter and conventional passenger rail programs. This is extremely important if the high-speed rail plans for a blended system are to come to fruition,” said Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord). “As the state is embarking upon a major investment program in rail transit, it behooves us to ensure that high speed rail will operate as part of the state’s entire rail system when completed.”
SB 1117 directs the California Transportation Commission (CTC), in cooperation with regional and state agencies, to create a statewide passenger rail plan to address the following issues:
· High speed rail, conventional intercity rail, commuter rail, and urban rail transit.
· Long-term infrastructure needs of the state and how rail can be used to meet them.
· Existing rail and increasing connections to rail, as well as high speed rail.
· A long-term plan for high speed rail.
· Existing corridors and rights of way issues.
· The goals of regional governance, greenhouse gas reduction, and the reduction of traditional air pollutants.
· Reducing congestion.
· Long term transportation energy needs.
Under SB 1117, the CTC will be required to hold public meetings and adopt a completed plan by September 2014. The plan would be updated every four years thereafter.
SB 1117 will next move to the Assembly for consideration.
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Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) chairs the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and represents the Seventh Senate District, which includes most of Contra Costa County.