[Video courtesy YouTube and the CA High Speed Rail Authority]
The debate surrounding California's 700-mile high speed rail is becoming even more politically charged as the project creeps toward a make-or-break decision next month; the trains must traverse the Altamont Pass, a coastal mountain region between San Joaquin Valley and San Francisco. Doesn't it seem that such decisions always boil down to political power plays? Congress has already drawn its claws, threatening to oppose federal funding for the project, while supporters of the Altamont Pass have insinuated filing a lawsuit against if the board picks a southernly route following Highway 152 through Pacheco Press. Environmental groups are miffed about potential damage to wetlands, wildlife, and increased urban sprawl.
We realize that it's entirely too early in the game to expect an answer to this query, but any predictions as to how much it might cost to jet down south on such a train? Proponents see the rail line as an important third option to freeway and air travel. But on the East Coast, for instance, the speedy rail between Washington D.C. and New York City runs upwards of $100— closer to $200 actually. Enough to tempt one onto a puddle jumper, or to drive, even. (Quel horreur!) And we all know that DC and NY are in much closer proximity to one another than, say, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Will the rail system turn out, ultimately, to be less time and cost effective? Planners, plan away.
· Bay Area route dispute threatens high-speed rail line [SF Examiner]