Californians Turn Against Bullet Train Proposal
How convenient would it be to grab a suitcase, head from San Francisco to Los Angeles and arrive in a matter of a few hours? If you are aboard the proposed California high-speed rail system than you could. Californians that voted for the $68 billion bullet train project back in 2008 are now apparently experiencing some buyer’s remorse. A new poll shows that 55% of voters want to see the train bond issue back on the ballot while 59% say they would now vote against it.
After voters approved a $9 billion borrowing plan, the numbers have roughly doubled. The train is now also planning to share tracks with some other slower commuter freight trains, according to the Times. Governor Jerry Brown is pushing to start construction in the Central Valley by the end of this year while powerful agricultural groups, homeowners, churches, schools, and businesses are all hoping it never starts, touting that it would damage their interests and compromise safety.
Last Friday the Madera and Merced County farm bureaus located in Central Valley filed a huge environmental lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court asking for preliminary injunction to block the construction of the new rail. This is one of a handful of suits that the project has had to deal with and likely won’t be the last since several other Central Valley agricultural groups are threatening to sue as well.
“We think a preliminary injunction against construction will occur because there were so many violations in the authority’s environmental impact report,” Anja Raudabaugh, executive director of the Madera County Farm Bureau, told the Times.
The non-supportive farm groups say the rail project would affect 1,500 acres of prime farmland and 150 agribusinesses in their region. The times reported that the concerns about the project are widespread spanning amongst many different regions, ethnic backgrounds, income brackets, and political affiliations. Democrats being the strongest supporters of the proposed plan, now show that only 43% would vote for it while 47% would vote against it. The poll also shows that 76% of Republicans would vote against it.
The growing deficit has citizens worried as law enforcement and education budget cuts are being made to make room for the railway venture. They are also questioning whether a state government can manage to run a big rail system effectively.
While some supporter’s opinions have been swayed, they shouldn’t forget all the positives that this train would bring to the state of California. This rail project would mean hundreds of thousands of jobs during construction, maintenance jobs after it’s built, and new opportunities for supplier’s restaurants and businesses along the track route. In addition, sustainable resources will be used to operate it like wind and solar power ultimately cutting the smog out of L.A. and S.F. It would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 12.7 million barrels per year and freeways and airports wouldn’t be so clogged with cars and people. Greenhouse gas emissions would be slashed by 12 billion pounds per year and overall it would revitalize communities throughout the terminals. If people could look beyond the temporary sacrifices, in the long run, it makes complete ecological and economical sense.
Californians are becoming skeptical about this rail system likely because it’s completely foreign to them. A surprising 69% of people said they wouldn’t even ride it. Only a mere 33% of Californians said they would prefer the bullet train to a plane or car. It’s possible that once it’s built, people will have a change of heart as they plan a family trip to Disneyland in Anaheim.
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