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Huge budget deficit be damned: California Gov. signs funding bill for $68 billion high speed rail project

By Doug Powers  •  July 21, 2012 01:16 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

There’s every indication that environmental laws Gov. Jerry Brown has supported, among other obstacles (such as having no money for it), will prevent California’s planned “train to nowhere” from being completed, but the project will move forward regardless:

California moved full steam ahead on Wednesday with a $68 billion high speed rail project, a move that comes as the state slashes spending to close a nearly $16 billion budget deficit and as a string of its cities mull bankruptcy.

At a ceremony in Los Angeles, Governor Jerry Brown signed an initial funding bill for the train project, clearing the way for construction of a 130-mile section of track through the state’s agricultural heartland.

Brown says a bullet train network will boost job creation and provide an alternative to car and plane travel in the country’s most populous state.

Critics say California can ill afford the $68 billion project that farmers unions regard as an “imminent threat” to some of the most agriculturally productive land in the United States.
The state and federal financing outlined in the bill includes the issuance of $2.6 billion in state bonds, which would in turn unlock $3.2 billion in federal funds for construction of track in the Central Valley that was expected to begin at the end of 2012 or the start of 2013.

Construction had to begin before the end of this year or the project’s eligibility for over $3 billion in stimulus funds would have expired. If the funding holds out for the first leg, over a decade from now Californians will finally be able to travel from Borden to Shafter in record time. To dream the impossible dream.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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