California high-speed rail project (HSR) has survived political battles and budget shortfalls.
High speed rail could change the face of California. PHOTO: Edward, CC license
The rail will shuttle passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in three hours, with stops at various cities in between.
Here are 5 reasons this is the greatest public works project in the U.S. right now.
1. 20,000 jobs a year for the next 5 years.
The high speed rail project will create 20,000 jobs a year over the next 5 years,
according to Inhabitat
. That is welcome news to cities like Fresno and Merced, where the first 65 miles of track will be built, which have unemployment rates of 13% and 15% respectively.
2. Climate considerations make this a big win for the environment.
The carbon footprint of California's high speed rail construction will be offset completely by a tree planting program. Tree planting is one of the most efficient ways we can reverse the increasing concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, and it has many other positive effects. As for the rail itself, it will run on electricity, and this will be provided by a mix of 45% geothermal, 30% wind, 20% solar and 5% biogas. In addition to all that:
3. High speed rail will take thousands of cars off the road every year.
Driving from San Francisco to L.A. takes 5 hours at a minimum, and it ends up being more like 6 most of the time (ten if you are foolish enough to do the drive on the Sunday after Thanksgiving). The drive can go by painlessly enough if you have some good podcasts, but it's not a drive anyone does for pleasure (highway 5 is boring). While it's not known how much train tickets will cost, the drive takes a full tank of gas in a Prius and twice that in an SUV. Factor in time saved and comfort gained and many drivers will choose the train.
4. Many will choose the train over a plane as well.
Flying is the most environmentally destructive action most of us do. The high speed rail line between L.A. and S.F. will be fueled by renewable power. The plane from SFO to LAX takes an hour and fifteen minutes to high speed rail's three hours, but rail will make some of that time back, assuming that passengers don't have to arrive an hour before their trip. A round-trip plane ticket costs around $160. High speed rail will likely be cheaper.
5. High speed rail shows a willingness to think long-term.
The project won't be completed until 2029, and while everyone wishes it would happen faster, it is worth noting that the California and federal governments are willing to invest time and resources in a project of this scale (the Federal Railroad Administration is kicking in $3.5 billion). It would be politically easier to restrict concerns to those that will show visible results by the next election, but these sorts of projects are needed to drastically change the transportation infrastructure of the nation's most populous state. If more money can be secured for the project, construction may speed up.