By Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) - 07/21/08 06:00 PM EDT
Two weeks ago, your paper ran an important special section on the status of our transportation and infrastructure systems in America. From crowded airports to jammed Interstates, our nation needs an investment in our roads and runways, along with an investment in high-speed rail.
I applaud House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member John Mica (R-Fla.) for his op-ed supporting high-speed rail development in America. Chairman Jim Oberstar’s (D-Minn.) introduction of H.R. 6004, the RIDE 21 Act, also shows his willingness to invest in a 21st-century intermodal transportation system throughout the country, which would include high-speed rail.
While Mr. Mica is accurate that the Northeast Corridor is a good place to start high-speed rail development, California should also be included in this development as well.
California has made significant strides to build a high-speed rail system within the state. In fact, the accomplishments made by the California High Speed Rail Authority have put California significantly ahead of other regions in the country that are considering building a high-speed rail system.
Recently, the Authority has completed a Tier 1/Program Level Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement on nearly all 700 miles of the potential rail system, and has begun the Tier 2/Project Level EIR/EIS for several major segments. There is also a $9.95 billion bond measure slated to be on the state ballot for the November 2008 election that would provide the first phase of funding for high-speed rail.
This system will be on par with the state-of-the-art high-speed rail systems our friends in Japan and Europe are currently operating. The system will have trains running at speeds of 220 mph and will link California’s major cities: San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento.
Trains will be powered by electricity and run along existing rail rights-of-way separated from other train and automobile traffic.
Construction of the system is estimated to generate almost 300,000 jobs, and following construction, the system would provide 450,000 permanent jobs in the state. These jobs would have a huge ripple effect into other areas of California’s economy, such as the service and manufacturing industries. Overall, for every dollar invested in this system, we will see two dollars in return.
The challenge our nation has is to develop state-federal partnerships with private business participating in efforts to build high-speed rail systems. Our nation must develop a state-of-the-art intermodal transportation system to make an impact on climate change and reduce traffic congestion.
Our nation will see high-speed rail development only when people with boldness and vision — like Reps. Oberstar and Mica — determine that it is an integral part of our 21st-century technology system.
Short-circuiting the electric car
From Kirk Muse
Twenty-nine years ago President Jimmy Carter told us about our present energy crisis. What did Congress and Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush do about it? Nothing.
The United States could have been free of our dependence on foreign oil decades ago.
Two industries have a vested financial interest in making sure it never happens: the oil industry for obvious reasons and the automobile industry for not as obvious reasons.
Electric motors run for several decades with virtually no maintenance. When is the last time you had to replace the motor in your electric refrigerator? Probably never.
Electric vehicles have no filters to replace, spark plugs, radiators or exhaust system. Electric vehicles would last for decades. Our current automotive industry is dependent upon buyers replacing their cars every few years.
Electric cars and air-powered cars would make the oil industry and petroleum-powered cars obsolete. Will the oil industry and automotive industry do everything in their power to make sure that electric and air-powered cars are not sold in the United States? Yes.