California Governor Jerry Brown gave his State of the State speech tonight. He hinted at changes coming in how we fund transportation and indicated his continuing support for high speed rail and mitigating the effects of climate change.
In the years following World War II, California embarked on a vast program to build highway, bridges and roads.
Today, California’s highways are asked to accommodate more vehicle traffic than any other state in the nation. Most were constructed before we knew about climate change and the lethal effects of dirty air. We now expect more.
I have directed our Transportation Agency to review thoroughly our current priorities and explore long-term funding options.
Last year, you authorized another big project: High Speed Rail. Yes, it is bold but so is everything else about California.
Electrified trains are part of the future. China already has 5000 miles of high speed rail and intends to double that. Spain has 1600 miles and is building more. More than a dozen other countries have their own successful high speed rail systems. Even Morocco is building one.
The first phase will get us from Madera to Bakersfield. Then we will take it through the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale, constructing 30 miles of tunnels and bridges. The first rail line through those mountains was built in 1874 and its top speed over the crest is still 24 miles an hour. Then we will build another 33 miles of tunnels and bridges before we get the train to its destination at Union Station in the heart of Los Angeles.
It has taken great perseverance to get us this far. I signed the original high speed rail Authority in 1982—over 30 years ago. In 2013, we will finally break ground and start construction.