State Building Trades Urges Legislature to Fund HSR
The Tea Party (and their newest friend, Gavin Newsom) may be continuing their war against high speed rail. But California’s labor unions, a key Democratic constituency, remain deeply supportive of the project. Robbie Hunter of the State Building and Construction Trades Council explains why:
Simply put, California cannot afford not to do this. Our transportation system is already overtaxed and our population will reach 50 million by mid-century. High-speed rail is the only viable means of making sure our transportation infrastructure can meet our growing demand. Continuing to build more and more freeways and airports would be more expensive, more environmentally damaging, and less efficient. Ultimately, the cost of doing nothing will far exceed the cost of modernizing our rail system.
Other developed nations are using high-speed rail with tremendous results. We have learned from places like Spain, France, China, Japan and other countries that high-speed rail is the most efficient and preferred mode of transportation between population centers 100 to 500 miles apart. That is precisely the corridor California’s high-speed rail will serve. California and high-speed rail are made for each other.
So Hunter clearly understands the basic reasons for the project, reasons that need to be restated often so that legislators don’t get lost in the fog of right-wing rhetoric being hurled at the project.
Hunter also goes on to remind legislators that early challenges for major projects are common:
We must remember that there are always up-front costs for getting a major project off the ground, whether a dam or bridge, factory or a college; there are costs up front followed by great benefits. If you don’t get started, you can never get where you want to be.
But, as we see once again, the opposition always dwells on those early costs. That’s why in 1932, there were over 2,000 lawsuits filed to try to stop the Golden Gate Bridge from being built, and many more opposing Hoover Dam. But those projects have proven their worth many times over, and continue to benefit us nearly a century later.
If California cut and ran every time someone sued because they didn’t like a project, people would still be using horse and buggy to get around. California’s infrastructure and prosperity depend on legislators being willing to ignore the haters and move ahead with a project whose value has been repeatedly demonstrated all over the globe.
Especially when so many jobs are at stake. There’s no doubt that the building trades have a lot of jobs riding on HSR. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially five years after the recession ended and unemployment in the Central Valley is still in double digits.
California legislators should listen to people like Robbie Hunter, and ignore people like the Tea Party, when it comes to making important decisions about the future.