Commentary: High-speed rail must not be derailed by budget crunch

This editorial appeared in The Fresno Bee.

California's lead in developing high-speed rail could be threatened by a cash crunch that has frozen funding of all state spending on infrastructure projects. State leaders need to address the problem immediately.

The California High Speed Rail Authority is out of money, and may have to call a halt to all the planning efforts now under way. That could put the state at risk of losing out on federal funds in both the stimulus bill and the omnibus spending bill.

The stimulus package contained $8 billion for high-speed rail, placed there because President Obama is a fervent supporter of the concept. Obama added another $5 billion for high-speed rail to the omnibus bill now in the Senate.

California's plans for the high-speed system were always contingent on getting federal support, in addition to state bond funds and private sector investments.

California is currently ahead of the rest of the states in planning its high-speed system. We're the only state whose voters have approved spending our own money on such a project, and the environmental and engineering studies required for the massive project are already well begun.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.

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