Loretta Sanchez Applauds Investment in High Speed Rail

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47), along with members of the California Democratic delegation, have sent a letter to President Obama applauding the Administration’s commitment to investing $53 billion over the next six years to high speed rail, and urging the Administration to commit a significant portion of that funding to high speed rail projects in California. Rep. Sanchez praised the President’s announcement, which represents a very significant expansion in rail funding, and encouraged the President to view California as a partner in building a better connected America.

“I am very pleased with President Obama’s proposal to make $53 billion in additional funding available for a national high-speed, intercity passenger rail network,” said Rep. Sanchez.  “High speed rail is the way of the future, and investments in local infrastructure will help to create jobs and grow our economy.  California, and particularly Orange County, has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to high speed rail, and already has the plans and initial infrastructure in place.  I encourage the President as he moves forward to concentrate this federal investment in a state like ours that is ideal for a high speed rail and is also prepared to implement such a system. ”

A full copy of the letter can be found aat the end of this post.

Bringing High-Speed Rail to America

From the White House Blog – Tobin Marcus

Imagine the last time you took a trip between two American cities.  Maybe you had to wait in line at a crowded airport; maybe you spent hours in traffic in a car or a bus.  Or maybe you made the trip on a train that had to slow down over and over because it was running on outdated tracks.

Now think about the fact that over the next 40 years, the population of the US is projected to grow by 100 million, and consider how much that’ll increase the use of our roads, airports, and rail.  Now imagine what that same trip you took will be like if we don’t build the transportation infrastructure we need to accommodate those extra travelers.

The fact is, those folks are going to travel one way or another.  But it’s up to us whether they travel on the infrastructure of the past, or whether they travel on new 21st century transportation infrastructure that’s fast, modern, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

That’s why Vice President Biden traveled to Philadelphia today to announce a comprehensive plan to help the nation reach President Obama’s goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.  The President is proposing to invest $53 billion over the next six years to continue construction of a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network, which will create tens of thousands of private-sector jobs while helping to lay a new foundation for our economy.

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood board an Amtrak Acela train in Washington, D.C., February 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Building a national high-speed rail network is a key part of this Administration’s plan to out-build, out-innovate, and out-compete the rest of the world.  As Vice President Biden said in Philadelphia today, public infrastructure investment increases private-sector productivity, promotes growth, and creates jobs.  Transportation infrastructure is the lifeblood of the global economy; if we can’t move goods and people faster and more efficiently than our competition, there’s no way we’re going to remain the most prosperous and productive country in the world.

But why high-speed rail?  Why not build more highways and airports?

Look at it this way: in dense, highly populated regions like the Northeast Corridor, building just one mile of one lane of highway costs $40 to $50 million.  And it doesn’t get any easier when you look at airports; adding a single extra runway at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport recently cost $1.3 billion.  Worse yet, many of the airports in our most congested areas are surrounded by development and can’t be expanded, which makes it almost impossible to add more flights in and out of cities like New York.

And beyond the dollar costs of highways and airports, you have to consider their environmental cost in terms of increased carbon emissions: an Amtrak train between Philadelphia and New York can carry up to 500 passengers, and if those folks drove instead, they would use more than 1,900 gallons of gas.  Not only is that roughly double the energy used by that train, but most of it comes from foreign oil.

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood talk about high speed rail expansion while traveling from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia, PA on an Amtrak Acela train, February 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

But most important of all are the human costs of our aging transportation system.  As the Vice President said today, “Think about the difference rail travel makes in people’s lives. I know, because when I was in the senate, it made an incredible difference in mine. Every minute you’re not stuck in traffic, or working your way through airport security, is a minute more that you can spend with your families.”

Billions of hours were wasted last year in congestion on American highways.  And in our airports, the percentage of flights landing at least two hours late has more than doubled since 1990.  Even on the Acela Express – the fastest train in the Northeast Corridor, which the Vice President rode today – it takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to New York City.  That’s only about 45 minutes faster than in the 1940s.

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood deliver remarks on building a 21st century infrastructure at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

We want to change that.  Through our investments in high-speed rail, we’re hoping to cut the time for that trip to just 96 minutes.  Over the next 25 years, our goal is to build high-speed and intercity passenger rail capacity equivalent to 1,900 miles of new highway, but with trains zipping along at up to 220 miles per hour in our most densely populated corridors.  And we’re proposing to expand faster rail service to emerging and regional corridors as well, so that we can ultimately give 80 percent of Americans access to these core high-speed rail lines.

This is already happening in countries around the world, and as the Vice President said in Philadelphia today, there’s no reason we can’t do it here.  Building a cutting-edge transportation system is the only way we’re going to keep leading the world.  So let’s start building.

Tobin Marcus is the Deputy Economic Policy Advisor in the Office of the Vice President

Congressional Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama:

As House Members of the California delegation, we were thrilled to learn that the Administration plans to move forward with a job-creation initiative. Tuesday’s announcement of a proposed $53 billion investment in infrastructure – specifically high-speed rail – over the next six years is a smart investment to move our economy in the right direction.  

As benefactors of this new investment, we believe that our home state of California can significantly contribute to the prosperity of our nation’s future. As we work to repair our economy, we must make investments that can create and sustain a new innovative base that brings together the best of America and making high-speed rail a reality in California will accomplish this objective.  

Already armed with $9 billion in state bonds and roughly $3.6 billion from the federal government, receiving funding from the newly proposed investment in infrastructure will place California about two-thirds of the way toward funding the entire project for a high-speed rail system in California.  This is a smart investment because it would ensure that California would meet the 2020 deadline and attract investments from the private sector. Further, this investment will create the jobs that many Californians are desperately looking for; this will positively impact our state’s economy and play a pivotal role in bringing down an unemployment rate that surpasses the nation’s rate of unemployed Americans.

Our delegation supports your objective to give eighty percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years. We are hopeful that as your administration moves forward with this investment, you will continue to see California as a partner in building a 21st century America. An investment in California’s high-speed rail system is an investment in the nation’s prosperity. 

We are hopeful that we can work with your administration to successfully move forward with this essential investment for the future of California and the country as a whole. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

CC: Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman and Ranking Member
Appropriations Committee Chairman and Ranking Member

  2 comments for “Loretta Sanchez Applauds Investment in High Speed Rail

  1. February 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    California can’t afford High Speed Rail or Loretta, or Obama.

    If California were to sell all of the $9.95 billion in HSR bonds it would cost California’s general fund $676 million per year for 30 years in interest payments at 6.79%; the HSR will likely have to be subsidized due to an insufficient ridership. (Subsidizing HSR is a good thing, but only for states and nations that are not ‘bankrupt’).

    At the end of 2010 California has borrowed $10.3 billion from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits; the costs of the borrowing will be $362.3 million this year; California is now asking Uncle Sam for an interest-only-loan. How ‘bankrupt’ is that?

    In 2008 California’s HSR project was estimated to cost $32 billion, in 2009 the estimate was $42 billion, in 2011 – who knows? The governors of Wisconsin and Ohio rejected $616 million in HSR funds. California is broke with a $25.4 billion budget deficit and according to the independent Legislative Analyst, California has $200 billion in unfunded liabilities; the Stanford Institute for Economic Research estimates is $500 billion, (the discrepancy depends on the ‘discount-rate’).

    No combination of budget cuts or taxes will be able to cover California’s debt. CA is broke.

    California needs its 53 member congressional delegation to visit http://www.larouchepac.com and study the “The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report” and then ram-through “Glass-Steagall;” if the congressional delegation lacks the courage, then they should resign. – Resign Loretta!

    http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/billion-287896-year-budget.html

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/high-107568-ocprint-california-speed.html

  2. lefty
    February 13, 2011 at 8:55 am

    It’s seriously hard to imagine the actual benefit of high speed rail in a country (& especially a county) of SUBURBAN SPRAWL – but don’t confuse it’s (HSR) proponents with the facts.

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