U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in a meeting with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and local business leaders, affirmed the commitment to California high-speed rail and discussed how investments in high-speed rail are essential to keeping California's economy moving.
“High-speed rail is absolutely essential to California’s economic future,” said Secretary LaHood. “President Obama has challenged us to build an economy that works for everyone. Now is the time to connect people who need work with the work we need to do, beginning here in California.”
Construction of California’s 220-mph high-speed rail system will begin in Fresno later this year and, according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, will create tens of thousands of jobs over the next five years in one of the regions hardest hit by the recession. The system will also spur thousands of new jobs at railway suppliers of all sizes.
The stress on the state’s infrastructure will become even more pronounced during the next 40 years, as its population will grow by more than 20 million people. Without constructing the high-speed rail system, the California High-Speed Rail Authority estimates that California would need to invest $171 billion to acquire the equivalent level of capacity, 2,300 miles of new highways, 115 new airport gates and four new airport runways.