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August 30, 2011 > High-speed rail project on track

High-speed rail project on track

Submitted By Rachel Wall

The public got its first look at how an updated business plan set to be released in October 2011 will be organized and presented when the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board met in Sacramento on August 24, 2011.

The staff presentation included a preview of the business case, funding plan, progression from construction to operations, economic and job benefits, types of funding and financing sources and more

"High-speed rail represents a big step toward getting the California economy back on track," said Board Chairman Tom Umberg. "From construction through operations, it means hundreds of thousands of jobs and the means to move people and goods around our state in a way that's fast, clean and safe."

The preview indicated the forthcoming business plan will include the most comprehensive and well-vetted economic benefit analysis to-date. The analysis will reflect a peer-reviewed travel demand model and best practices from federal and state review agencies.

Over the last months, the Authority has conducted a variety of workshops and held meetings with leading academics, representatives of economic development agencies and other policy and planning groups to present and get feedback on the methodology it used to determine economic impact.

Another potential public benefit that will be expanded upon in the plan is the avoided costs of expanding the highway and air travel networks if the statewide high-speed rail system is not built. The presentation asserts that major public investments in highways and airports may be needed to deal with the severe congestion that will arise if a high-speed rail system is not built.

"We know California's population is growing - and growing quickly," said Authority CEO Roelof van Ark. "And we know they will have to move around the state. We can expand existing options or we can turn to an efficient and environmentally-friendly mode of transportation that is proven and profitable."

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