California’s progressivism is hard to judge after this year’s election. The same state that voted for President-elect Barack Obama also voted against the right of same-sex couples to marry. One step forward; one step back, right? Sure, until you take into consideration the fact that California voted in favor of a costly infrastructure upgrade.
Fifty-two percent of voting Californians said yes to Proposition 1A, which funds the development of a high-speed passenger train that will link the state’s major cities. It’ll cost taxpayers $10 billion, a number that’s never taken lightly. (Other public and federal funds will be used to construct the train, which will cost about $45 billion in the end.) With the support of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bill went through in spite of the country’s economic anxiety – a feat that’s to be admired.
By the time it’s completed, taking the train from San Francisco to Los Angeles will be faster than riding a plane. The trip will take two and a half hours, and the train will be able to reach a maximum speed of 220 miles per hour. Don’t cancel your flights just yet, though – it won’t be finished until 2030.
Of course, it’s well worth the wait. The railway system, which will mimic bullet trains in France and Spain, will finally show other nations that our infrastructure can both function and impress. According to the High Speed Rail Authority, the new train will carry 50 billion people and make $1.1 billion in surplus each year. It will also reduce greenhouse gases, free up crowded airports and freeways and create 160,000 jobs.
What’s there not to like about it?
Naysayers say the final bill will reach about $80 billion, and that greenhouse gas effects are negligible. In times like these, they warn, we should be more careful when deciding what projects to fund. Indeed we should, which is why a railway system that generates jobs and lessens the need for more infrastructure in the future is a great investment.
The fact that 48 percent of Californians voted against Proposition 1A is disheartening. In the end, though, it’s still an admirable step forward.