In 2008, California passed a vote with a fifty-two percent majority to construct a 400-mile-long high-speed rail line between California’s two most urban areas: Los Angeles and California. Intended to travel at a speed of 220 miles per hour, the bullet train would cut travel time between the cities from six hours to two hours and forty minutes. The goal was to increase economic and career opportunity through the cutting down of travel time into major cities, decrease urban population and create more feasible suburban living, as well as to help maintain the environment by decreasing the number of cars travelling the roads. Construction of the project began in 2013 and since then the cost of the project has more than doubled in its $44 billion increase from $33 billion to a total of $77 billion. Construction has also failed to meet its initial time proposals and is currently thirteen years behind schedule with earliest approximations for completion in the year 2033. Route changes have contributed to the delays and rising costs of the rail line. Many communities have brought up legal cases in their resistance to the rail line construction, including the raised viaducts which would allow the trains to travel at a high speed overhead instead of sharing commuter tracks at a much slower speed, the very condition the bullet train was proposed to prevent.
On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced his decision to temporarily cut bullet rail construction down to a 119 mile stretch in California’s Central Valley between Bakersfield and Merced, two agricultural hubs separated by rural farmland. Governor Newsom has made clear that this is not an end to the bullet train project, merely the only viable way to move ahead with it at the present time due in large to the rising cost of construction.
While most of California’s democrats want to see the high-speed train into fruition they, for the most part, deem any progress better than none. However, the decision to continue with the high-speed rail in any capacity has drawn fire from many Republicans, the majority of which opposed the rail to begin with. Republicans are calling for a revote, stating that the change in terms of rail construction has made the bullet train construction into an entirely different project than was voted for over ten years ago, in 2008. Furthermore, this drastic change in design means an enormous reduction in the funds necessary for the project. President Trump has requested that these funds be returned to the government, but Governor Newsom has been quick to decline President Trump’s request, leading to question what these funds will be allocated for.
If California’s High-Speed train is ever completed, it may very well change the layout of America and the ways in which business works. If the rail is found to be successful, California could be just the beginning of life with less time spent on travel. California’s rail will act as a testing ground for potential construction of high-speed rails between other major cities across the United States.