In states where building high-speed rail is not politically toxic, elected leaders are scrambling to get a piece of the federal (essentially free) money Tea Party and Republican pols are unwilling to accept for rail projects. As soon as New Jersey governor Chris Christie killed the Access to the Region’s Core tunnel under the Hudson River, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo told the Federal Transit Administration he would gladly take the $3 billion the feds had committed to the project.
When newly elected governors in Ohio and Wisconsin pulled the plug on their high-speed rail projects, the prospect of all that money being reassigned got more than a few politicians excited. The Associated Press reported both Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein yesterday informed US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood they would love more money for our High Speed Rail Project.
Now Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is piling on.
“It is with a certain sense of astonishment that we note recent announcements from some of our gubernatorial colleagues that they are uninterested in federal contributions to their high-speed rail systems,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “You are more than welcome to redirect that money to California – where we know how to use it to generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and provide a clean, fast and low-cost way to travel.”
Hopefully LaHood isn’t too concerned about the recent conflict of interest investigations casting a shadow on California High Speed Rail Authority boardmembers Curt Pringle and Richard Katz, the latter announcing his retirement from the board yesterday.
Read the rest of Schwarzenegger’s statement after the jump:
In fact, we are proudly leading the nation in the planning and development of our high-speed rail system, with the strong support of our fellow Californians, the federal government and soon the private sector. If other states refuse your support, we would certainly welcome their shares – particularly as we continue to demonstrate how well those dollars will be spent in our great state.
In California, we have secured a total of $4.3 billion to begin construction on the core of our system. That includes a recent $715 million in federal funding, on top of previous economic stimulus funds and state and local matches. The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board is poised to select within a matter of weeks the location of the first section of the line. We are set to begin construction in 2012 and begin passenger service in 2020. In short, the progress, pace and precision of California’s project has been nothing short of remarkable.
Californians eagerly await a high-speed rail system and, with last year’s approval of major bond funding, they have done their part to make it happen. With a firm long-term commitment of federal funding, state matches that stretch your investment still further and the private funding such assurances will bring, we will be pleased to demonstrate to the rest of the nation the environmental and economic value of high-speed rail. As President Obama said, “There’s no reason why the world’s best infrastructure should lie beyond our borders.