Friday morning at 9 AM supporters of high speed rail, including CHSRA board chair Curt Pringle, members Lynn Schenk and Richard Katz, and various unspecified "members of Congress, legislators, city and county officials, and representatives from labor, business and environmental groups" will gather at Union Station in LA to hold a rally in support of the state's application for $4.5 billion in federal HSR stimulus money.
Major newspapers in the state are getting into the act, including the San Jose Mercury News:
Friday's a big day for California's high-speed rail plan: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will formally request $4.5 billion in federal stimulus dollars to advance the project that will create about 133,000 jobs, 15,000 of them in the San Jose to San Francisco area.
The U.S. Department of Transportation should find this compelling. California's plan is further along than any other high-speed rail project in the country, and the state will match every federal dollar. As to the stimulus intent, California's unemployment rate of over 12 percent is a powerful argument. Major questions remain about how the line from Los Angeles will traverse San Jose and Peninsula cities. But voters have approved nearly $10 billion in bonds for the project, a solid vote of support.
The best use of stimulus dollars is to not only create jobs but also to strengthen the economy for the future, just as the United States did during the Great Depression by constructing dams, bridges and the like. High-speed rail someday will seem as indispensable as the Depression-born Golden Gate Bridge, and stimulus dollars can make it happen.
Good to see the Merc picking up the right framing on this. Government spending on infrastructure is one of the best ways to pull California out of the worst recession since World War II. It worked for us during the Depression, and it can work for us now.
PS: Almost forgot that today is also a CHSRA board meeting. Watch it live here, and view the agenda here. Finalization of the updated Caltrain/CHSRA MOU is on the agenda, as is staff authorization to issue a Request for Expressions of Interest to potential private funders.