High Speed Rail Decision a Big Win For California, the Bay Area and the Bay Area Council
California and the Bay Area took a gigantic leap forward with the state Senate’s approval on July 6 of funding to begin construction on the initial phase of the nation’s first high speed rail system. The Bay Area Council had worked furiously in the months and weeks leading up to the vote to urge the Legislature’s support of high speed rail and the early investment it promises to electrify and modernize Caltrain, which was among our lead priorities. The Assembly approved high speed rail on July 5. As part of its advocacy push, the Council traveled to Sacramento to meet with key legislators to urge their support. We authored several opinion-editorial pieces that appeared in regional newspapers. We assembled a coalition of major employers that signed letters to the Legislature in support of high speed rail’s early investment in Caltrain. And, along with Rep. Anna Eshoo, we released an economic study showing that the early investment by high speed rail in Caltrain electrification would create almost 9,600 jobs and generate $2.5 billion in economic activity. The final push culminated several years of intensive advocacy and policy work by the Council in which we assisted and supported the development of the blended approach that high speed rail authorities adopted for having their trains share tracks with regional commuter rail lines like Caltrain and the agreement for bringing early high speed rail investment to Caltrain. The Council also advocated for the state ballot measure that voters approved in 2008 to provide almost $10 billion in bond funding for high speed rail.