San Francisco mayor and candidate for California governor Gavin Newsom is in France this week and toured the TGV, hoping to boost his profile on sustainable transportation. He also took the occasion to reiterate support for an HSR tunnel to the Transbay Terminal:
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took a tour of the French high speed rail system (TGV) in Paris Monday and said that California's new version of the train is a "requirement" for the Transbay Terminal being planned for San Francisco's South of Market area.
"Since the onset of this project, I have been committed to the grand vision of Transbay, including high speed rail, a downtown extension for Caltrain and the visionary multi-use terminal itself," Newsom said. "Including the rail box as part of the terminal construction is necessary for this grand vision to be realized."...
Newsom's office has said that the plans are not certain as to whether the rail would come into the Transbay Terminal. He said it was vital that it did.
“We’re not going to build a $2 billion bus station under my watch,” said Newsom.
The Transbay Joint Powers Board, which oversees development of the Transbay Terminal, has considered building the first phase of the new terminal without the train terminal, and coming back later to excavate under the terminal and build for high speed rail only if subsequent funding materializes.
On Monday, Newsom came out against that idea, suggesting that the Transbay Joint Powers Board should not move forward on construction of the new transit center until funding is secured for the inclusion of high speed rail and it is fully integrated into the first phase of the project.
We've been calling for someone in San Francisco to assert some leadership on this and while it's great that Newsom is stepping up, the fact is that he does not bring much to the table in terms of financing. If he can get Senators Feinstein or Boxer to step up with including funding for the train box and tunnel in the stimulus, that would be fantastic. Newsom and Obama have a famously frosty relationship so that's not likely to help matters. Still, if Newsom can play a mediative role between the Transbay JPB and the CHSRA that would be helpful.
Newsom also said that the DTX and the train box would be ideal targets of an Obama stimulus. Unfortunately those chances appear to be receding. The DeFazio amendment I wrote about last night has been withdrawn:
We received word this afternoon that Rep. DeFazio's amendment that would have provided $2 billion in assistance to transit agencies was required to be withdrawn. We'll post more as we learn it, but had something to do with parliamentary issues.
There's reports out there that Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, is planning to offer an amendment to the stimulus that would add as much as $10 billion in rail funding. I don't know the details on that, but you'll surely get them as soon as I do.