Venture Beat, a Silicon Valley blog, has an excellent overview of the high speed rail project and its benefits for Silicon Valley. I especially liked this part:
It’s hard to calculate the value that a project like this would have in the long run, in the same sense that it was hard to calculate the value of some of the first railroads, highways and major bridges in this state.
High speed rail really does need to be assessed in those kinds of terms. It would be a transformative project for this state, catalyzing economic development in ways that are difficult to quantify. HSR would play a central role in 21st century prosperity in California as the aqueducts did in the 20th century and the railroads did in the 19th century.
The train would help Silicon Valley to become more accessible to lower-income and middle-income workers who can no longer afford to live here, people who instead live in Central Valley cities like Stockton or Modesto and spend hours driving back and forth to work in the Bay each day. The planned network includes a series of stops in Central Valley towns.
For some this sets off "sprawl" alarm bells - but I don't see the cause for concern. Sprawl is a product of cheap oil, cheap credit, and favorable land use rules. We're losing the first two. Stockton and Modesto, in fact, bear the highest foreclosure rates anywhere in the *world* right now. As gas prices continue to soar there will be even less appetite for sprawl - but a lot MORE appetite for high-density development in close proximity to an HSR station. I'm all in favor of tightening the land use rules against sprawl too, but HSR alone isn't going to destroy the Valley. In fact it is likely to be its salvation.
The blog post goes on to mention environmental benefits, jobs, and convenience as reasons to get behind the HSR plan. Plus they link to the Facebook group and to this blog - but that's just icing on an excellent argument for HSR.