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High-speed rail project gets funding boost

July 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill providing funding for the first phase of California's High-Speed Rail Project.

Brown arrived at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to sign the bill Wednesday morning. Along with a new rail line, the California High-Speed Rail funding bill (SB 1029) includes millions of dollars for rail projects in the Los Angeles area.

The governor signed the bill even though there are lingering questions whether it would create jobs and questions about if it will ever be built. The project is expected to start in the Central Valley and stretch for 130 miles connecting Fresno and Bakersfield. The total cost of the project is expected to be around $68 billion.

The state legislature has approved $4.7 billion for the first phase. It's expected to be matched by nearly $8 billion from federal and local coffers. However, there are several lawsuits pending, which question the environmental and economic impact.

Farm bureaus in Central Valley say they'll be losing water and farmland, and a recent UCLA study found that a high-speed rail line from L.A. to San Francisco will have only a marginal impact on economic growth.

Brown strongly disagrees with the people he calls, "the decliners."

"This is a job creator, a builder of the future. And as we look backward, we see whether it's the Panama Canal or cathedrals, there were men and women who had the courage and the vision to build, not for tomorrow, not based on immediate gratification, but long-term loyalty and commitment to the community," Brown said.

The governor also said the state will be able to pay the millions of dollars a year that will be needed to service the bonds. Meantime, the state is facing a deficit and cutting programs and jobs.

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