California is at least 30 years behind the rest of the world in the development of high-speed railways (Thanawala & Dreier, 2012). The need for high-speed trains in California is obvious. California residents are tired of spending long hours in traffic jams.
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The new high-speed railways promise to bring Los Angeles residents to San Francisco in just about 2.5 hours, while those who travel from Los Angeles to Irvine will be able to arrive at the point of destination in no more than 30 minutes (Chavira, 2009). The argument in favor of building high-speed railways in California is very persuasive, although the project has many critics.
The benefits of high-speed railways in California can be roughly divided into the following categories: economic, environmental, and community. The economic benefits of the project are numerous. First, the creation of a high-speed rail will provide hundreds of local families with well-paid jobs (California High-Speed Rail Authority, 2012). The project will accomplish about 800 miles of track and have about 24 railway stations, and new jobs will be created to operate and maintain them (California High-Speed Rail Authority, 2012).
An estimated 100,000 construction jobs will be created each year that the rail is being constructed (California High-Speed Rail Authority, 2012). The project will create 450,000 permanent jobs and facilitate the movement of people and capital; it will finally result in a severe congestion relief that will bring economic, environmental, and community benefits.
The environmental benefits of the new project should not be overestimated. The system will reduce the scope of air pollution statewide because it will be powered by electricity that will be generated by renewable energy sources (California High-Speed Rail Authority, 2012).
The quality of air will improve. The project will enhance the state’s energy efficiency and reduce its dependency on foreign oil (California High-Speed Rail Authority, 2012). Greenhouse emissions are expected to decrease by 12 billion pounds annually (California High-Speed Rail Authority, 2012).
Finally, the local community will significantly benefit from the increased availability of cheaper and faster transportation options. The new project will improve the community infrastructure revitalize communities through more rapid “economic development around new transportation terminals” (California High-Speed Rail Authority, 2012).
At present, many communities in California lag behind the smart growth priorities, but with the implementation of the project and stronger reliance on the railway transport instead of vehicles, community residents will finally see more beautiful street scenes and improved walkability in ecologically sustainable areas (Chavira, 2009).
Certainly, the project is not without limitations, one of the main ones being its cost. The draft plan created by the Californian authorities suggests that the high-speed railways will cost California $98 billion (Thanawala & Dreier, 2012). However, this problem is not as severe as it seems, at least because the project will be covered cooperatively by the federal and state governments, as well as through private investments (Chavira, 2009). Public-private partnerships will also support the project (Chavira, 2009).
Another problem is with communities: the question is whether the benefits of community development will overweigh the issues in the community members, who will have to watch high-speed trains running next to their homes daily (Chavira, 2009). Finally, it does not seem that high-speed rail will be finished any time soon. Chavira (2009) predicts that the project will be implemented by 2018. Vartabedian (2013) suggests that the state has not even acquired a single acre of land along the route.
Nothing good comes easy. The high-speed rail project will become an economic and environmental breakthrough for all Californians. The project will bring enormous economic benefits and reduce environmental pollution. It will give millions of people strong economic and community hopes.
California needs this project, and the project requires public and governmental support. It is high time for California to revitalize its economy and social life, while also improving the state’s infrastructure and raising the quality of transportation and related services. The state has been waiting for this remarkable opportunity for years, and it is imperative that the chance to improve the lives of Californians is not lost.
California High-Speed Rail Authority. (2012). Project vision and scope. California High-Speed Rail Authority. Web.
Chavira, T. (2009). California’s high-speed railway: The pros and cons. Four Story. Web.
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Thanawala, S. & Dreier, H. (2012). California high-speed rail authority approves bullet train plan. Huffington Post. Web.
Vartabedian, R. (2013). California still hasn’t bought land for the bullet train route. Los Angeles Times. Web.