Adios 2008, Welcome 2009
And so we come to the end of 2008, one of the more eventful and tumultuous years I can recall (although my memory doesn’t really go further back than 1985, so perhaps my perspective isn’t that long). In the midst of economic crisis and political upheaval, Californians ought to look back on 2008 as the year we made a long overdue commitment to sustainable transportation. It’s not going to be easy to implement, but if I may paraphrase JFK, we choose to build high speed rail and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
California voters approved Proposition 1A which, combined with federal funding and private contributions (which will materialize; the credit crunch won’t last forever) will build a high speed train connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles via the Central Valley that will transform transportation and land use in California, along with providing short-term economic stimulus and long-term economic growth.
Californians also voted to massively expand passenger rail in Los Angeles County, including the Subway to the Sea; to build a passenger train along the NWP corridor in Sonoma and Marin Counties (although the collapse of Colorado Railcar is an obstacle for SMART to overcome); and to commit more money to the BART to San José project.
Those votes are but the first step in a long process of building the kind of sustainable transportation that California must have to maintain prosperity in the 21st century. The HSR deniers haven’t fully gone away, and the New Hoovers are gathering to fight government spending on infrastructure, including rail. Our work is still cut out for us.
But 2008 showed us what we can accomplish when we give Californians a choice – the failed status quo, or a high speed rail future. The end of 2008 gives us one last chance to reflect on those victories and accomplishments – because once 2009 starts, seven hours from now, we’re going to have to get to work on the state and federal level to ensure that the HSR project is funded and supported.
Happy new year, everyone.