Reuters

New business plan could see construction begin this year

In California Governor Jerry Brown's “state of the state” address today, he devoted a significant chunk of his talk to the state’s embattled high speed rail project. He says the project will move forward, despite a recent blow from an independent review group that advised legislators against funding the project.

Brown says a new business plan is in the works that will better make the case for the project, which he argues is crucial for the growing state.

As governor the last time, I signed legislation to study the concept. Now thirty years later, we are within weeks of a revised business plan that will enable us to begin initial construction before the year is out. ...

If you believe that California will continue to grow, as I do, and that millions more people will be living in our state, this is a wise investment. Building new runways and expanding our airports and highways is the only alternative. That is not cheaper and will face even more political opposition. Those who believe that California is in decline will naturally shrink back from such a strenuous undertaking. I understand that feeling but I don’t share it, because I know this state and the spirit of the people who choose to live here.

Exactly how the state moves forward on the project isn’t clear. But Brown says the new business plan will significantly strengthen the case for high-speed rail. If that plan has its intended effect, construction could begin on the first leg of the project in the Central Valley by the end of the year – a move the federal Department of Transportation supports [PDF]. The project's many critics and proponents - in California and beyond – will surely be watching to see just how different this revised business plan is.

Photo credit: Max Whittaker / Reuters

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