Californians’ dream of a high speed train that would zip travelers between Los Angeles and San Francisco is less than three hours is taking baby steps toward becoming reality, but residents of central California’s farm country are saying, “not in my backyard!”
California voters approved a ballot measure in 2008, by an overwhelming margin, to raise funds for the bullet train project that is supposed to be up and running by 2029. But people in the way of the new tracks, for which initial engineering work recently got underway, wish that date would be changed to “never.”
"I just wish it would go away, this high-speed rail. I just wish it would go away," Gary Lanfranco told the Associated Press. Lanfranco owns a restaurant in Fresno that would have to be torn down to make way for new track.
"It's not like it's just a restaurant that I've owned for a couple of years and now I can just go replace it. It's something that I've put the last 45 years of my life into," sais Lanfranco, 66.
The initial ballot measure called for California to raise $10 billion by selling bonds. But as the economy has fluctuated in the state, so has the price tag, which now reportedly stands at $68 billion.
The ballot measure also required that the train get from L.A. to San Francisco in no more than 2 hours and 40 minutes. But political compromises have made that a near-impossibility. The train is now required to share track with standard commuter rail as it passes through certain populated areas. That will slow down the high speed rail to more or less normal train speeds for portions of its trip.
A judge in Sacramento recently ruled that the requirements of the original bond measure were not being met, giving rail opponents hope of stopping the project altogether.
The drive between L.A. and San Francisco now takes about 6 hours without significant traffic and is about 380 miles in distance. In other words, a car that gets 25 miles per gallon would consume more than 15 gallons of gasoline each way.
Japan has connected most of its major cities by bullet train for decades. The first Japanese high speed rail ran in 1964. The picture above shows a typical Japanese bullet train.
SOURCES: Associated Press, Sacramento Bee, Wikipedia