The California High Speed Rail may or may not make it beyond the Central Valley, but city officials will continue to include it in planning for the future.
Earlier this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke of the $77 billion bullet train intended to link San Francisco and Los Angeles, which has been criticized for delays and increasing costs in ways that have been interpreted variously in the days since as either killing the project beyond the current construction or simply slowing it down.
Newsom said “the project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long,” and that “right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”
He said the 171-mile section now under construction between Bakersfield and Merced would be completed, and that environmental studies for other segments will continue. His office later stated Newsom was committed to the high-speed rail project.
Palmdale officials fought from the beginning to have the city included as a station on the route, and have included the rail line as a feature for its future transit area specific plan now under development. Under the existing state plans, the Palmdale station would be the stopping point between neighboring stations in Bakersfield and Burbank.
Mayor Steve Hofbauer was in Sacramento the day following Newsom’s address and found he received different information from each legislator or staff member he asked about the status of the program.
The common theme he heard, however, was the intent to focus on completing the section already under construction between Bakersfield and Merced without distractions.
“We’re going to see what ends up coming out of this. We’re going to continue to hold their feet to the fire for the promises they made Southern California,” Hofbauer said.
Hofbauer said he understood “where he’s coming from” and credited the governor for recognizing issues with the project’s cost overruns and management problems.
In the meantime, the city is not changing its planning efforts, which include the high-speed rail project as one of several aspects for future development of its transit area, which would remodel a section of central Palmdale stretching between Rancho Vista Boulevard (Avenue P) and Palmdale Boulevard and the Antelope Valley Freeway to 10th Street East.
“We are staying the course. We’re staying positive. We’re continuing with our station planning,” Michael Behen, strategic initiatives manager for Palmdale’s Public Works Department, said.
A grant from the California High Speed Rail Authority is part of the funding for the planning project, he said.
Additionally, Behen said he had assurances from the authority that the environmental study for the rail project that is already underway will be completed as planned.
“We don’t want to be in a position where they show up or want to show up and we’re not ready,” Hofbauer said.
However, the state rail project is but one factor in the larger picture, which includes multiple transportation modes.
“If high-speed rail shows up, great. If it doesn’t we’re going to be ok,” he said.
The city is also planning for a future high-speed train service between Las Vegas and Victorville to extend to Palmdale. This privately funded project, now known as Virgin Trains USA and formerly as Brightline, will travel a federally approved corridor between those two cities initially, with the potential to continue the line to Palmdale, where it will connect with other transportation services.
Construction is expected to begin this year and the company plans to begin initial service in 2022, according to a company statement.
Additionally, the city is working with the Air Force and others to reinstate commercial air service at the Palmdale Regional Airport, which uses the runways at Air Force Plant 42.
“Things are happening here you don’t see any place else in the state, or really in the country,” Behen said.
Source: Antelope Valley Press. While this information is deemed reliable, it has not been verified and its accuracy is not guaranteed by the source, ACE Capital Group, its representative, brokers, and/or agents. ACE Capital Group reserves the right to correct any unintended errors or omissions.