Jun 9, 2015

We Should Focus on Water, Not High-Speed Rail

waternotrail

“They act like they have an unlimited purse.”

No, not the LA Dodgers. Instead, that’s a Southern California resident talking about Democrat leaders in Sacramento and Washington and their willfully blind support of the flawed California High-Speed Rail project.

California is a land with abundant resources that has given opportunity and hope to so many who came west to establish a new and better way of life. But the status quo is not always sustainable.

Just because California is a land of plenty doesn’t mean we can waste our resources and taxpayer dollars. But that is exactly what is being done with California High-Speed Rail—a project that takes time and money away from what is truly needed, like drought relief.

Since being presented to the voters, California High-Speed Rail costs have exploded, ridership estimates have shrunk, and speed projections have been questioned when analyzed by engineering’s brightest minds.

At the same time, our state has endured the worst drought in a century that has been exacerbated by planning and judgment errors from government leaders. And years into the crisis, infrastructure and long-term solutions are nowhere to be seen.

The big problem in California is that time and money that should be spent responding to the drought has instead been wasted on a boondoggle that California residents don’t even want.

Residents up and down the high-speed rail route—from blue-collar suburbs to city centers—are coming out in protest to the project, which would negatively affect dozens of schools, churches, and parks along with tens of thousands of homes.

But the negative impacts stretch beyond areas near the tracks. Current estimates state that the high-speed rail project will cost over twice as much as the original plan voters approved in 2008. Private investment that was promised remains nonexistent and Republicans in Congress are committed to not putting another federal taxpayer dollar to this flawed project.

Just tonight, the House of Representatives passed a transportation bill that blocks federal funding for the California High-Speed Rail project. Since taking the majority in the House, Republicans have been committed to ensure hardworking Americans’ tax dollars aren’t wasted on projects that don’t reflect today’s reality or tomorrow’s potential.

But just imagine what could be done if the energy used in pursuit of this fundamentally flawed project was instead used to help relieve the drought. Water storage projects that never got off the ground could have actually been built and more water could be flowing to people’s homes, farms, and neighborhoods.

Former Representative Tom Campbell has the right idea, and put it very simply in the OC Register: “California should take the money going to Gov. Jerry Brown’s train and use it to build more water storage.” If the governor did that, we could take advantage of the next rainstorms and the winter snow pack to make sure Californians get the water they need, not the train nobody wants.

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