Controversial High Speed Rail Project Breaks Ground Tuesday

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SACRAMENTO-

Governor Jerry Brown reiterated his commitment to the California High Speed Rail project in his inaugural State of the State address Monday morning.

He also held his inaugural reception this evening at the California State Railroad Museum.

Despite political, environmental, and legal opposition, ground breaking will take place on Tuesday, at the future site for the Fresno station.

"I'm very excited," Brown said. "It's about time we got going. It's a long project, a bold project, and it's going to transform the Central Valley."

Tuesday's groundbreaking is the start of the first 29 mile portion of the project spanning from Fresno to Madera. Proponents said it is a long time coming.

"We can't let the nay-sayers or those afraid of California progressing prevail in this because this project is too important," Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, said.

The entire project will eventually connect Los Angeles to San Francisco by 2028. It will be the largest infrastructure project in America.

Proponents said it will immediately create jobs, and connect major state hubs. However, opponents are still not convinced on how this is will happen, with such a shortage in funding.

"All they are trying to do is turn a shovel full or dirt and say we've started and now we can't stop," Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said. "What they are hoping for is the inertia of the project itself will make it more difficult for them to stop the project in the future when people realize it's not a workable project. Where the money is coming from, no one knows."

The estimated total cost of the project is $68 billion but experts predict will actually cost close to $200 billion. As of now, California will not be given any additional federal money from a Republican controlled Congress. So lawmakers here said they have to look elsewhere for funding.

"We have to look within the state for funding opportunities so at will be our job through the budget process. But also seeking private investment. And I am confident there will be private investment in this system," Perea said.

"The private money isn't there because no private investor in his right mind would sink money into this project so who's on the hook? California tax payers," Coupal said.

Many believe this is Jerry Brown's legacy project, like his father's Interstate project. Others call it Jerry Brown's "high speed fail" project.

"Pat Brown Sr. did develop a needed infrastructure project. The jury is still out whether or not this high speed rail is needed or even warranted," Coupal said.

"The legacy of the Brown family is that they have been big thinkers and big builders. And I think this is an opportunity for the legislature to step up and support Governor Brown," Perea said.

The official ground breaking will begin at noon at the future site of the Fresno Station, at 1625 Tulare Street, Fresno, Calif. 93706.