Three Central Valley members of Congress – Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, Jeff Denham, R-Atwater, and Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield – have introduced legislation to divert federal stimulus funding ($2.5 billion) for high-speed rail funding to State Route 99.
Their aim, they say, is to create a six-lane freeway.
Ironically, none of them directly opposes high-speed rail. McCarthy, for example, has said he favors high-speed rail between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. "But the private sector should pay for that," he has said, as if road building and other transportation infrastructure (airports, seaports) somehow aren't subsidized.
In short, H.R. 761 is a public relations stunt. The state and federal governments already have signed the agreements for high-speed rail stimulus funds.
The bill also presents a false choice between improving road infrastructure and building the passenger rail infrastructure of the future, operating at faster speeds than current intercity passenger trains.
Like it or not, California voters in 2008 approved a $9.95 billion bond measure to start the project. At the time, this page urged a "no" vote on all the propositions, saying, however, that the high-speed rail measure was a "tough call" because the state "needs clean alternatives to air travel and freeway travel, and the Central Valley needs the economic development that could result."
Well, voter support hasn't flagged since 2008. A Harris Poll released Feb. 24 showed that awareness of the project is high in California – and 70 percent support state funding and 73 percent support federal funding for the project.
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