California Governor Jerry Brown gave high-speed rail the official green light Wednesday, signing legislation authorizing $8 billion in initial funding for the $68 billion project.
This officially frees up money to begin the line's construction, which will start next year in the Central Valley.
Signing ceremonies in San Francisco and Los Angeles emphasized the political importance of the $1.9 billion allocated for improving existing commuter rail systems in these cities, the eventual “bookends” of the rail network that would connect northern and southern California.
In a statement, Gov. Brown said “by improving regional transportation systems, we are investing in the future of our state and making California a better place to live and work.”
Brown had no plans to stop in the Central Valley, where the project faces strong legal opposition from farmers, agribusiness and other groups in the Valley.
Republican legislators in California roundly oppose the plan. State senator Joel Anderson released a statement today equating approval for high-speed rail funding with slashes to education funding in the state. “There should be no doubt that Governor Brown has thrown our children’s education under the tracks to build this train,” he said.