It's crucial that supporters of high-speed rail in California continue to push for this much-needed public works project. The naysayers are organizing -- as they always seem to do when a better idea comes along -- and those of us who believe in improving California must not lose our momentum.
High-speed rail still has strong public support, despite critics suggesting otherwise. Voters in 2008 passed a $10 billion bond measure, which showed that they are willing to begin funding initial phases of the project. That show of support has been backed up by a survey released in July showing that three-quarters of Californians want high-speed rail.
Some are frustrated that such massive projects take so long to come to fruition, and that's understandable. But while something of this size take time to roll out, the majority of Californians continue to understand the long-term importance of building the 800-mile system.
The high-speed rail project is the most promising public-works effort since the state built its water system. It will create jobs -- good-paying jobs -- move people around the state efficiently and help improve our air quality.
The San Joaquin Valley will be a major beneficiary of this project, both in terms of the speedy transportation the system will provide, but also locating the heavy maintenance facility in the region.
That part of the project would employ 1,500 people, including the rolling stock maintenance staff, train operators, central control supervisors, systemwide engineers and other staff. We believe Fresno County has the best site for the maintenance facility.
Last week, a coalition of business, labor and government leaders explained the advantages of Fresno County's proposal to Quentin L. Kopp, a member of the High Speed Rail Authority board. In April, a similar meeting was held with Curt Pringle, who chairs the High Speed Rail Authority board. In October, the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation will devote its annual report to high-speed rail, emphasizing the importance of this project.
The local message has been consistent: Fresno County has its act together and is ready to proceed on the maintenance facility, and be a partner in the statewide system. These are important meetings that show off the assets of the community to key high-speed rail decision-makers.
High-speed rail is going forward in California, and the San Joaquin Valley won't be left behind.