A few years ago I was concerned about the timing of building a High Speed Rail system in California.  Business worldwide was booming.  Prices for steel, cement and other basic construction materials were skyrocketing, even supposing you could find a supplier.  It seemed to me that cost estimates would soon be out of date as inflation took hold and we’d end up spending far more than we had bargained for. 

But thanks to the bad news from the credit markets and reality of an oncoming recession, now is a better time than ever for us to have the courage to move forward with this project.  Already, thanks to the global slowdown, steel and cement prices have tumbled.  And due to the recession in construction and home building we have at least 8% unemployment here in California, and it could get worse.  In addition there are now at least four and probably five or six credible suppliers of High Speed Rail equipment and systems around the globe, each of whom will be hungry for new orders.  It’s going to be a buyers market for all of the components of a High Speed Rail system, and we should take advantage of this window of opportunity.

In the past the State of California and the Federal Government have embarked on bold, strategic infrastructure projects when the economy faced challenging times.  We have the Hoover Dam, the state water project, and many other important facilities which we take for granted as a result of having the courage to make these investments in our future.  We have the manpower, we can make the steel and the concrete, and the earth moving machines, and if we are wise we can also use this opportunity to jump start an American Railcar building industry in partnership with the train builder that we select. 

During this recession some of the imperatives for building High Speed Rail will seem to be less important.  Travel will probably diminish, freeing up capacity at airports and on highways.  But this will just be a temporary phenomenon.  By the time construction is complete the economy will be booming again and all the benefits of High Speed Rail such as reduced pollution, less dependence on imported fuel, improved mobility between the major cities in the state, will be needed more than ever.  So RailPAC says yes on Proposition 1A for job creation and a better future for California.

Paul Dyson,

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