It’s been six years since California voters narrowly approved a $9 billion bond measure to get a high-speed rail system off the ground. Now, work has finally, officially, begun.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday in downtown Fresno, with high-speed rail officials and Governor Jerry Brown talking up the $68 billion project. In about 13 years, the train will connect downtown San Francisco with our very own Union Station in about two hours and 40 minutes. Funding remains a challenge for the $68 billion project, though a major victory was won last year when Brown created a steady stream of income for the bullet train by pushing cap-and-trade funds toward construction costs. A shortfall remains, but with regular monies rolling in, opportunities for advertising and public-private partnerships look much rosier.
We in SoCal likely won’t have to wait until 2028 to benefit from the nation’s largest infrastructure project — high-speed rail officials hope to jump-start work on the line’s Palmdale-to-Burbank phase, which could open years earlier than the full L.A.-to-S.F. route. While the Burbank-to-Union Station route is being built (after Palmdale-to-Burbank), some advocate a blended option — combining high-speed rail with Metrolink track — so travelers could access Los Angeles-proper without transferring at the Burbank station and getting on a different train. Time will tell how this all plays out, but a California bullet train finally looks like an inevitability and no longer a hazy dream.