Sen. Harry Reid: Save California’s high-speed rail project

August 11, 2011

As concern grows over costs for a high-speed rail system in California, and amid talk of scrapping the project, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that abandoning the multi-million dollar venture would be “short sighted.” [San Francisco Chronicle]

Speaking on a conference call on clean energy Wednesday, Reid said the rail system would be good for the economy and national security, and that the cost of doing nothing should be considered as well as the price of building the 800-mile system linking the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley and Southern California.

“Our country is so short sighted — our highways are jammed — and we are spending so much wasted money hauling people in airplanes for 300 miles or less, which is terribly inefficient,” he said. “I am a big, big fan of high-speed rail, you have to look at things other than the raw numbers of how much it costs. How much does it save?

“If you could take a train from Sacramento to L.A. to San Diego, that would be wonderful, instead of the inefficient San Francisco to Los Angeles flights that happen every day,” he went on. “It would be so short-sighted to walk away from the bonding capacity — you have $10 or $12 billion in bonds —because of costs.”

California voters authorized $9 billion in bonds for the project in 2008, and the federal government has given the state $3.5 billion in grant funds. The project will cost more than $40 billion.



  1. abigchocoholic says:

    Save it with what Harry Reid?

    You’ve already spent all our money and maxed out all our credit cards.

    Not only are you not going to build this project in CA, CA is about to cut thousands of jobs and programs to because there is no money due to the false balanced budget we just passed that is really 10 billion in the red. Remember, the CA budget was only balanced if CA found another 10 billion in revenue. Well, not only is there not another 10 billion in new revenue, the existing revenue is still decreasing.

    The pain hasn’t even begun yet.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. Typoqueen says:

    As soon as I saw the name ‘Reid’ on the headline I knew that the cons here would be out with their pitchforks.

    (-3) 3 Total Votes - 0 up - 3 down
  3. azuresees says:

    Mr. Reid exposes the symptoms of many Americans.

    Example: If you have a used car, and it has some maint. issues, buy a new car. That’s what’s he’s proposing. I heard on the radio (no, not the best source, but…) that if you have a used car, you are going to save more money by fixing and maintaining your semi older car, than going out the “easy” way and spending more money on a new car with new and higher payments. Thrift is not in his lexicon. Last I heard, he is a socialist anyway, so I tend to disregard his spew.

    Hey, wait a minute….Didn’t his Boss man suggest and finance the same dang thing? Ca$h for clunkers…Yes. I remember now.

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      This country didn’t become the great country that is once was by sitting back and letting things get old. This country became prosperous by innovation and moving forward. I guess we’ll have to let China continue to beat us at this as well as so many other things. Building a high speed train is an investment into our future.

      I’m not saying that I’m for this project, there seems to be a lot of unanswered questions. I need to know more about the financial issues before I could make a proper judgement but I like the concept and see how it could help our economy.

      (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
  4. NorCoMod says:

    Instead of spending the 40 Billion or so that’s projected to be spent for high speed rail, why don’t we use that money to include a second parallel set of tracks for the coastal line and the San Joaquin line.

    The right of way already exists with the exception of some minor widening here and there and it already serves most of the urban areas. Modernize the existing line and add trains with somewhat higher speeds and more efficient powerplants.

    Any train that reaches speeds approaching 200 MPH is going to make very few stops so we will still have people commuting to a few parking lots to embark. Let’s use what we already have in a more efficient manor. Not as sexy a transportation solution, I admit and the labor unions will squeal.

    (17) 19 Total Votes - 18 up - 1 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      I’m not an engineer so I’m not sure if what I’m saying is accurate. My guess is that it seems unsafe to have a train moving at that speed going through so many highly populated areas. It seems to make sense for it to go to the large cities and then speed off to another large city through the desert where there isn’t as high of a chance of hitting people/cars. I can think of several places where people cross tracks that wouldn’t have much of chance of getting out of the way if a train was moving that fast. Many people cross tracks where there aren’t warning signals.

      (-7) 7 Total Votes - 0 up - 7 down
      • SLOChildrenAtPlay says:

        “Typoqueen” CalTrain already runs what they call “Baby Bullet” trains from San Jose to San Francisco through heavily populated areas. With some “infrastructure improvements,” they eliminated many of their grade crossings, and raised the tracks to cross over the roads. It still costs much less than the high-speed rail idea. Much of the tracks through residential areas were fenced off. There have been commuter trains on the line from SJ to SF for over 100 years now!! Go to Wikipedia and look up “Northeast Corridor” and see how they get trains to pass through heavily populated areas at uo to 125mph.

        (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
        • Typoqueen says:

          There’s some huge differences here. You can ‘t compare a train that goes 125 to one that goes 200+. This project is already projected to cost an astronomical amount of $$, I feel it would cost more to up grade our infrastructure than you do. You are talking about SF to SJ, big whoop how about SJ to Sand Diego. There are many communities that would need a lot of work, I feel it would be cheaper to start over and avoid urban settings. There will have to be tunnels and bridges everywhere. I can think of to many problems. You can say that a lot of our trackways are already either close or at compliance for trains that travel at 125 MPH but how about 200+, I have driven at 125 MPH, you’re not talking about gaining that much speed, if you’re not gaining that much speed and on top of that you are stopping every 15 to 30 miles, what are you gaining? That’s just not enough to warrant change IMO.There also needs to be trains that stop in a lot of little towns like Grover Beach and SLO. Bullet trains should start off with a few central stops but not every little community. We need our current train system to accommodate our little communities and a high speed train that commutes fast between major cities as to help cut back on flying as well as attracting tourism.

          (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
    • SLOChildrenAtPlay says:

      I completely agree. With a two-track mainline from San Diego to San Francisco, and some other minor improvements – we could have a west coast rail system as efficient and as busy as the “Northeast Corridor” (Amtrak’s busiest commuter line). Maybe not “high-speed rail,” but we could easily improve much of the coastal line to run 70-100mph.

      But Obama and the Democrats are stuck on the pipe dream of an expensive shiny new toy train, that will top $100 million, and will only end up running between Fresno and Bakersfield before the environmentalists kill the project, or make completing it cost prohibitive.

      What happened to the promises of “infrastructure improvement and rebuilding?” We already have a railroad infrastructure, which is currently UNDER-utilized between Santa Barbara and San Jose. Why can’t we just rebuild it or improve it? It would easily help move 2-3 times more people than it does now, and it would create jobs too!!

      Stop wasting money on dream trains we can’t build, and focus on improving the effiency of what is already reality. We are headed for 2nd-world economic status anyway, yet there are 3rd-world countries that still have more efficient train service than we do here in the west.

      (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
      • r0y says:

        …and that Northeast commuter line has never come close to breaking even, let alone showing a profit. And that is with captive users (people who do not use/need cars because of density).

        It would be a long-term financial burden to do anything with rail here or anywhere. I love trains, and riding them – but purely out of nostalgia.

        To have Harry Reid chime in with his collosal ignorance on the subject is just pouring salt in our state’s fiscal wounds…
        “Our country is so short sighted — our highways are jammed — and we are spending so much wasted money hauling people in airplanes for 300 miles or less, which is terribly inefficient,”
        Is he serious? If it is so inefficient, Mr. Reid, why don’t you take the train or the bus? Hypocrite.

        Finally, does anyone TRULY believe this would only cost $40,000,000,000.00? Seriously? Ever been to Boston?

        (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
        • unlisted says:

          How many highway projects break even???

          It’s costing about $1,000,000,000.00 to add 10 miles of carpool lane to the I-405 over Sepulveda Pass. When will the revenues from that project repay the costs? Never!

          (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  5. LittleAcorn says:

    This project makes no sense to me. New passenger lines with existing hardware would make more sense than a high speed train. Our local, state and federal governments begrudgingly funds Amtrak, Caltrain and mass transit, now they want to spend 40+ billion? It would be nice to have the jobs, but not the debt.

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
  6. easymoney says:

    More senseless spending…

    (18) 18 Total Votes - 18 up - 0 down
  7. shelworth says:

    And what has ol’ Harry got to do with California? He should stick to screwing up his own state! It’s not like we need help screwing up ours.

    (24) 26 Total Votes - 25 up - 1 down
    • NorCoMod says:

      What does Harry Reid have to do with the California High Speed train? Harry is all about Phase 2 of the project which will go from LA to Las Vegas. That’s why he gives a rip. His constituents want the Californios moola.

      Now Reid is saying he’s all about high speed trains and that there shouldn’t be ” so much wasted money hauling people in airplanes for 300 miles or less” Two weeks ago Reid was one half of the reason that the FAA’s Airway Trust Fund was not extended for the 21st time since 2007.

      Reid’s reason for not approving it? He wouldn’t back down on the FAA’s Essential Air Service Program which was subdividing Ely, Nevada’s airport (among others) to the tune of $3,720.00 for each and every seat sold on their local feeder airline. He’s since relented to a $1000.00 cap which is good, my point is now 2 weeks later he’s talking like he’s always thought that way. And it’s not true.

      Politicians. Sociopaths in suits. And don’t get me wrong, Boehner is no different. When he cameras are rolling they’re locked in mortal combat. Turn the cameras off and they interbreed like weasels in heat.

      (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  8. shelworth says:

    Maybe if the first leg to be built actually went to and from places people wanted to go?

    (20) 22 Total Votes - 21 up - 1 down
    • Citizen says:

      Absolutely. Reid’s bias in California’s bullet train system is that the second leg is supposed to go from the LA area to Las Vegas to bring more gamblers to Nevada. I’m not kidding.

      (16) 16 Total Votes - 16 up - 0 down
      • choprzrul says:

        Absolutely stunning amazement!

        A politician with a self serving position on an issue.


        (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down

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