SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 4, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Three former U.S. Transportation Secretaries and a number of influential labor unions, progressive organizations and businesses have signed a letter urging State Senate and Assembly leaders to approve $4.2 billion in bond funding for the California High-Speed Rail project included in Governor Newsom’s proposed FY 2022-2023 budget.
“This letter from major national unions, public interest groups, businesses, and public servants expresses our conviction that now is the time to turbocharge work on this vital project,” said former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who signed the letter along with former DOT Secretaries Anthony Foxx and the late Norman Mineta, who died Tuesday at the age of 90, and renowned California transit advocate Rod Diridon.
LaHood, Foxx and Diridon serve as co-chairs of the U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition (USHSRC), as did Mineta before his death. USHSRC, the leading national coalition working to fund electrified high-speed rail projects, sent the letter to state Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
The letter argues that approving the proposed budget funding could likely mobilize even more financial support at the federal level which, taken together, will accelerate work to complete the project’s initial operating segment in the Central Valley while advancing construction on critical bookends in the Los Angeles Basin and the Bay Area.
Among those also signing the letter were engineering giant AECOM, Associated General Contractors of California, the Bay Area Council, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, infrastructure design firm HNTB, the International Union of Operating Engineers, Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), National Conference of Firemen & Oilers 32BJ SEIU, Northern California Carpenters Union, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Progressive Democrats of America, Rail Passengers Association, Teamsters Rail Conference, Transportation California and the U.S. High Speed Rail Association.
Here are excerpts from the letter:
“The ongoing spike in gas prices shows that California voters were wise to vote in favor of Prop 1A in 2008. High-speed rail is a key part of how we break free from oil – as well as the enormous burdens it places on consumers, communities and the climate.”
“According to a new Los Angeles Times – Berkeley poll, 56% of registered voters in California want to continue building the high-speed rail project, including 73% of registered Democrats and 54% of Independents.”
“59% of L.A. County voters support continued construction of the project – including 32% who strongly favor continued construction – while only 29% oppose it. And 65% of Bay Area voters support continued construction, while 27% oppose it.”
“As the Legislature reviews Governor Newsom’s budget request, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is competing for billions of dollars in competitive grant opportunities in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well as billions more in the pending budget reconciliation bill, which includes $10 billion in dedicated funding for high-speed rail projects.”
“Approval of the $4.2 billion bond appropriation will signal continued support by the State of California, giving the Biden Administration an incentive to provide significant federal investments for the project.”
“America’s effort to decarbonize transportation depends on the completion of the California High-Speed Rail project. Once the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco line is up and running, it will slash emissions by an average of 2 million metric tons annually – equivalent to saving 225 million gallons of gas and taking 432,000 cars off the road every single year.
“To achieve sustainability, we need high-speed rail. There is no cheaper or better alternative to addressing the state’s transportation and oil dependency challenges.”
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SOURCE U.S. HIGH SPEED RAIL COALITION