On 28 February BurbankNBeyond’s John Savageau had the opportunity to interview Representative Adam Schiff (D) serving Burbank through California’s 29th Congressional District in his Washington D.C. office. BurbankNBeyond will publish this interview in a series of articles highlighting issues important to both Burbank and
Part 1. California’s High Speed Rail Project
The California High Speed Rail Project is ultimately planned to provide high speed rail access from Sacramento to San Diego, with the first priority being service from San Francisco to Los Angeles. As part of the project’s “blended approach” to construction, Burbank has tried to present a case for a rail stop in the city, possibly using existing Metrolink rail to facilitate this possibility.
BurbankNBeyond: Rep. Schiff, do you have any updates on the High Speed Rail Project in both Burbank and California
Rep. Schiff : We are in a fight here in Congress over the funding for high speed rail. Many of us believe that in a time of record unemployment in California, still the second highest unemployment rate in the nation, that to pass up billions in federal funding, or tens of thousands of construction jobs, is crazy. So I’m supporting the high speed rail funding and trying to keep that on track.
It’s my hope that we can improve the project, keep it moving. We should build high speed rail in California. Its uniquely suited for California given the distances between the cities, and the population, and we can certainly use the boost in construction in the state.
In terms of where the route would go, and whether there would be a station in Burbank – all of that is still far in the future. There is a re-examination going on of whether the first leg will still be in the Central Valley, or whether it can be moved to a more populated area.
I would love to see it in a more populated area so we have high ridership right of the bat, but that may not be possible because the federal constraint is that the money (must be) expended within a certain period. The environmental clearances have been done for the Central Valley, but nowhere else along the line.
And evidently to get the track tested you’d need a certain distance to travel in a straight line, which you can do in the Central Valley, but you can’t do in more populated areas. So there are some compelling reasons to go forward with the original segment, but my priority is to keep the project on track so to speak, and make sure it’s built in a cost effective way.
BurbankNBeyond: What justification would there be for not building a high speed rail north and south in California?
Rep Schiff - Well there’s a mixed sentiment against it in the capital by people who are against anything the President proposes. So this is viewed as a President Obama idea, and therefore ‘ipsofacto’ not a good idea, – that’s part of the opposition. Some would like to see the funding for high speed rail to go for building more freeways.
Building more freeways, building out our existing airports… that only gets us so far in a state like California where we have a very large, and growing population, an aging infrastructure, and the need to move people around in new and different ways.
So, I don’t think that argument really works in California, but there is a fair amount of opposition to it here (Washington DC).