America 2050 released the following statement today on the release of the California High-Speed Rail Authority's revised business plan.
Governor Jerry Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority are to be commended on the revised 2012 draft business plan for high-speed rail, which cuts the project's cost by $30 billion while making numerous improvements to previous proposals.
The revised plan is more cost-effective and is phased in a way that will bring benefits sooner to the urbanized regions of the state, including the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles Basin. It directs funding toward electrifying the high-volume CalTrain corridor on the San Francisco peninsula, reducing pollution, noise and travel times of commuter rail, and makes safety and reliability upgrades to the Amtrak-Metrolink corridor between Los Angeles and Anaheim. These improvements will benefit existing commuters and will clear a path for integration with high-speed trains in the future. In addition, the plan proposes an Initial Operating Segment, which can be completed in the first 10 years, stretching 300 miles from California's fast-growing Central Valley to the San Fernando Valley at the gateway to the Los Angeles basin.
Conservation needs to be approached at the regional level in order to ensure that wildlife habitat, water supplies and working farms and forests throughout the U.S. Northeast are protected for future generations, a new report by Regional Plan Association and America 2050 concludes.
The research examines how landscape conservation initiatives are working across the Northeast to protect vital natural and cultural resources. The report, "Landscapes: Improving Conservation Practice in the Northeast Megaregion," makes recommendations for improving conservation efforts that stretch across city and state boundaries, from addressing governance questions and ensuring adequate financial resources to creating tools for measuring the impact of these regional efforts.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2011
We commend Chairman John Mica and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for holding a hearing today to focus on the viability of high-speed rail in California.
Our research indicates that there are two markets in the nation that have the concentrations of population, employment, and existing travel markets to support high-speed passenger rail today: California and the Northeast. California, having started planning this project in the mid-1990s, is now poised to be the first state in the nation to build world-class high-speed rail. In doing so, it will transform the state's geography, shrinking time distances among the state's major job centers and connecting California residents to economic opportunity for decades to come.
- California HSR Business Plan; 'Knowledge Corridor' Rail Report
- US HSR Conference Nov. 6-8
- Senate Preserves Rail Funding
- Carnegie Report Backs Oil, Gas Taxes
New report: High-Speed Rail: International Lessons for U.S. Policy Makers
Senate Keeps High-Speed Rail Funding Alive for Now
- Northeast Corridor Funding Sent to States and Amtrak
- America 2050 in the News
Around the country, over one-third of Amtrak passengers ride routes that receive substantial funding support from states. These 15 states understand the importance of passenger rail to their residents, businesses, and economies, and have invested in these routes to maintain and improve service. These routes are referred to as state-supported corridors and in 2010, they carried over 9 million passengers, about one-third of Amtrak's annual ridership. A new budget proposal passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month proposes to eliminate every last one of them. The same budget proposal cuts funding for the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program to zero.
Criticism of Amtrak commonly focuses in on its federal subsidies. However, these 15 states have taken it upon themselves to supplement scarce federal resources and make critical investments in these corridors to improve service and grow ridership. The House budget proposal unfairly punishes these states for this and places the burden of budget cuts squarely on the shoulders of passengers on these state-supported routes.
Please contact your elected officials and tell them to fight this budget proposal that reverses decades of progress to vital passenger rail corridors in all corners of the country. Visit www.StandUpForTrains.org today to send your Senators, Representative, and President Obama the message that you want America to have a stronger national passenger rail system.
Transportation advocates were gearing up for a big push to ensure that the federal surface transportation program did not expire at the end of the month, but in a remarkable show of common cause and swift action on Tuesday, the House unanimously approved a six-month extension of SAFETEA-LU, as well as a four-month extension of the authorizing legislation for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Senate still has to pass this bill before it's final, but Harry Reid has promised to move it through quickly, leaving transportation advocates breathing a little easier.
The federal surface transportation bill, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU), which funds federal highway, safety, and transit programs, originally expired in 2009. Since then, rather than pass a new, long-term bill that reauthorizes these important programs and guarantees funding assistance for the thousands of active transportation projects around the country, Congress has passed seven short-term extensions, essentially kicking the can down the road. These Band-Aid extension solutions do not give states the funding assurances they need to complete major infrastructure projects that often span several years and provide hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of jobs to American workers.
"I'm calling on Congress," said President Barack Obama on August 31st in a speech on the lawn of the Rose Garden, "as soon as they come back, to pass a clean extension of the surface transportation bill." Upon hearing this, many rolled their eyes. Advocates around the country were already beginning to set up the phone banks and prepare the advocacy letters we were going to send warning of the dire consequences of letting these programs shut down or waiting until the last minute to extend them. This time, our leaders did what was necessary to keep America moving forward with time to spare.
The bill, the Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act of 2011, extends SAFETEA-LU through March and the FAA through January. Highway and transit programs would receive funding at fiscal year 2011 levels - $19.8 billion for highways and $4.2 billion for transit paid for out of the Highway Trust Fund. The FAA will receive about $5.4 billion. This is the eighth time SAFETEA-LU and the 22nd time the FAA bill have been extended.