Thursday, August 8, 2013

California Builds Nation's First High-Speed Rail

California Begins Construction on New High Speed Rail Line
California Begins High Speed Rail Construction
California is making history this summer by beginning construction on the nation's first high-speed rail line. The rail line is set to start running in 2022 and to run between San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2029, moving at speeds up to 220 miles per hour. The state-wide commute is predicted to only take 2 hours and 40 minutes. The California High-Speed Rail Authority began construction on a 65-mile line between Fresno and Merced in June.

The new rail line is facing much criticism, as environmentalists argue the train will infringe on ecosystems and worsen air quality. Additionally, high-speed trains run on enormous amounts of electricity, and critics question whether the electricity can be sourced cheaply and cleanly. Farmers in Central Valley are also worried that they will lose valuable land in the construction of the new line. 

However, the high-speed rail line is predicted to generate over 100,000 new jobs over the next 5 years. Unemployment rates in Central Valley are high, Fresno at 13% and Merced at 14.9%--almost twice the California unemployment rate of 8.6%. The California High-Speed Rail Authority plans to reserve 30% of the jobs for local residents, hoping to relieve the suffering in the valley. 

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is determined to keep the project carbon-neutral. They plan to offset any carbon emissions by planting trees and plan to have the train run on clean energy only, with 20% solar, 30% wind, 45% geothermal, and 5% biogas.

They have only received $10 billion out of the $68 billion dollars needed to fund the entire project. California Governor Jerry Brown traveled to China in April to ride the newest high speed rail line and to attract investors for the California project. Will they receive the funding they need? And more importantly, will they keep their promise to keep the environment safe and clean while working on construction?