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Stimulus funds needed for Bullet Trains

October 3, 2009 12:05:12 AM PDT
What doesn't sound like a train, but rides on rails, goes more than twice as fast and pollutes less than most trains, planes and automobiles?It's what the governor and virtually every California politician wants. They asked the Obama administration today to help fund it with $4.7 billion in stimulus dollars.

It is the bullet train. If the money comes, it puts California within a year of breaking ground on a more than 200-mph bullet train. It would go from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two and one half hours.

It now takes Amtrak 12 hours to lumber from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Speeds max out at 79 mph.

"It will revolutionize traveling; it will create 100,000 plus jobs," says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A year ago, Californians approved a nearly $10 billion bond measure for high speed rail. Now, the state is asking the Obama administration to free nearly $5 billion in stimulus money to help start the project.

"We have done the most work, been involved for a long time, the federal government knows it, the president knows it," says the governor.

The High Speed Rail Authority thinks it might be able to break ground on the first segments of the bullet train by as early as 2011. They estimate it will generate 600,000 construction-related jobs.

A standard pitch from the supporters is no other state is as far along regarding high speed rail.

"There's no other state where the voters have set aside money for high speed rail. We feel we can leverage these federal dollars better than any other state as well," says Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle.

The high speed rail planners say nothing is going to derail the first part of the project and that passengers should be traveling at more than 200 mph within eight years.

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