Anthony Foxx and Joe Biden Speak Up for California HSR
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today reiterated federal support for the California high speed rail project:
Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx told the High Speed Rail Summit that the hundred million new U.S. residents expected by the year 2050 will overwhelm the nation’s transportation systems. And as long as we’re going to add rail capacity, he said, it may as well be the fastest practical technology — high speed rail.
Foxx said the Obama administration remains committed to California’s $68 billion high speed rail project, which would connect L.A. to San Francisco. He admitted there are “obviously some challenges,” but said Governor Jerry Brown has reaffirmed the commitment of the state to the project by promising “significant amounts of cap-and-trade dollars to the project.”
Those comments show the White House remains committed to HSR in California, despite efforts by Republicans to undermine the project. That’s great news.
Foxx’s comments also indicate the importance of using some of the state’s cap-and-trade revenues for high speed rail. With the White House citing those funds specifically, it will be harder for Sacramento Democrats to side with the Republicans and reject Governor Brown’s proposal.
Foxx wasn’t the only Obama Administration official to back the California HSR project. On the premiere episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden gave a shout-out to the California high speed rail project (toward the end of the clip):
He got a big cheer from the crowd for these words:
You know, we’re trying to get a high-speed train going from California into Las Vegas, where Jerry Brown is leading the country in having high-speed rail. I mean by high-speed rail, rail that can go 230-240 miles an hour. It’s environmentally more sound. It is economically more sound. It makes sense in every way, and it’s about time we get up and do it.
Some have mocked Biden for thinking of the wrong destination – the project Governor Brown is championing goes from LA to SF via the Central Valley, of course – but as we saw with Foxx’s comments, the actual decision-makers on this issue know exactly where the California HSR project is.
Biden is a great cheerleader for passenger rail and I wish he’d speak out about the California HSR project more often. But as long as officials like Foxx remain strong supporters, I’m happy.