Over the past six months, I've done a long series of posts on the case for, and against, and then again for the north-south high-speed rail project that Jerry Brown has made a test of his legacy as governor, and that is the most ambitious infrastructure project underway anywhere in the country.
The purpose of this post is to be a one-stop index and compendium of these posts, with a few updates. First, the updates:
1) "Why Today's High-Speed Rail Launch is Miraculous," by David Dayen in Salon. Dayen is a writer based in Los Angeles whose view on many topics is different from mine. But on this one we are in sync. He makes the case for this project as an extension of previous, big, long-term, mocked-at-the-outset efforts that have reshaped our lives for the good. Eg:
Gov. Brown, who really willed high-speed rail forward in 2014, obviously sees it as a legacy project, similar to the University of California system, intra-state highway network and water infrastructure built by his father, Pat Brown, the governor from 1959 to 1967. Those investments drove the state’s prosperity for decades, and the rail line could be a more sustainable component of that growth in the future.
But building out high-speed rail has implications for more than California. Americans have effectively given up on a visionary politics, as the 2014 midterms exemplified.... But those who would drown government and create an own-your-own society cannot explain away the Hoover Dam, or the New York City subway, or the roads linking Maine, Florida, Arizona and Idaho.
2) "A Sharp Contrast in Visions for America's Transportation Future," an editorial on the day of the ground-breaking in the Sacramento Bee. Sample:
In 2008, many Republicans supported the high-speed rail bond measure. Now that Obama and Brown support it, many Republican politicians have flipped....
The view of the Central Valley Republicans is disconnected from the region they represent. The U.S. census recently ranked Fresno as the second most impoverished metropolitan area in the nation... The Central Valley perennially has some of the nation’s dirtiest air and highest rates of asthma. Clearly, more gas-powered automobiles and additional freeway lanes, themselves costly, are not the answer.
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, is an exception, contending that the rail will give her city a much needed jolt by making Fresno “the essential connecting point for Northern and Southern California.”...
As evidence mounts about the impact of climate change, this nation must find alternatives to oil. One such alternative began to take shape in Fresno on Tuesday. Yes, it was rife with symbolism. The rail won’t be carrying passengers for years. But it was a start, and a wise step into the future.
3) Update: "Five times as many passengers using China's HSR network than in 2008." Rocky grammar, interesting data point.