California's high-speed rail system is slowly coming together, thanks to a commitment to 21st-century progress and political games over federal funding by the Republican governors of Ohio and Wisconsin.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority initially approved a 65-mile segment of the train in the Valley. But then the board sent the Valley more good news by adding another segment after governors in Ohio and Wisconsin refused their states' federal stimulus funding for high-speed rail. The Federal Railroad Administration took the money back and reallocated more than half of the $1.2 billion to California.
Rail Authority Vice Chairman Tom Umberg was correct in calling the latest federal funding "as early Christmas present" to California from Ohio and Wisconsin. If those states want to throw other federal funding our way, we'll take it.
The high-speed rail funds could increase the length of track being built starting in 2012 to as much as 123 miles. That would create an initial phase running from just south of Madera to the edge of Bakersfield, according to rail officials.
The California project is envisioned as an 800-mile system that would link the state's major urban centers with trains moving at speeds up to 220 mph. It would run through the Valley and give our region a major economic boost, as well as high-speed rail transportation to other parts of the state.
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