This doesn't count as the long-awaited No. 15 Finale in the California High-Speed Rail series. (For previous episodes see No. 1, No. 2, No. 3,No. 4,No. 5, No. 6, No. 7, No. 8, No. 9, No. 10, No. 11, No. 12, No. 13, and No. 14.) All readers will be relieved to hear that No. 15 is still to come. Instead this is to announce, as No. 14 1/2 in the series, some actual news. It's best understood in this sequence:
1) A little more than a month ago, Jerry Brown won his (unprecedented) fourth term as governor of California. One of the campaign issues was Brown's commitment to build a north-south high-speed rail (HSR) system as his signature project for the state.
2) A little less than a month from now in Sacramento, on January 5, Brown will be sworn in to begin that fourth and final term. Term limits will keep him to four, and will hold his successors to two.
3) The very next day, Brown's first full day of his final term, he will go to Fresno. There, according to an announcement a few hours ago, he will conduct—ta da!—a groundbreaking ceremony on the first leg of the HSR system. This is the way politicians indicate causes that matter to them. I think I have to be in D.C. on January 6, but I would give
anything a lot to be in Fresno on that day.
4) Today the California High-Speed Rail Authority also announced that the winning bid for the next leg of construction had come in substantially under budget estimates. The authority had estimated the cost of this segment at between $1.5 and $2 billion. It accepted a winning bid of $1.2 billion. You can read all the details here.
In the next few days, in the long-awaited installment No. 15, I'll argue more fully why I think this is a good move for Jerry Brown, for the state, and for the country. For now, as national politics remain locked in stasis, a reminder of what it is like when public efforts can get things done.