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A lot of us OC progressives – a lot of us who had become pretty accustomed to being disappointed with the votes of our one Democratic State Senator, Lou Correa – were really surprised and pleased to see him cast pretty much the deciding vote to proceed with California’s High Speed Rail last Friday!
Lou had made it clear previously that his vote would be contingent on how much investment, and how many jobs, he could bring back to Orange County. So we at the Orange Juice wanted details on that! How many jobs IS he bringing to Orange County, and when do they start? And are they good-paying union jobs?
Well, the busy Senator sure takes his time getting back to humble bloggers, even ones that were his close allies on stopping the Fairgrounds Swindle, but I’m happy to say we’ve finally heard from him.
His staff is looking in to exactly how many jobs – whether it’s in the hundreds or the thousands – and they’ll get back to us after they check with OCTA. These WILL be good-paying union jobs, and they’ll come out of $1.1 billion “bookend” funding to improve regional rail systems here and elsewhere, as well as
“an additional $819 million [which] will be available to improve connectivity on existing regional and inter-city rail systems and to eventually connect the entire High-Speed Rail System. Key to this new proposal is the investment of funds to improve the highly used rail corridor between Los Angeles and Anaheim.”
As Lou tells us, “It takes almost an hour to travel on train from Anaheim to downtown Los Angeles. Reducing this travel time will provide a tremendous service to commuters going to work on a daily basis. In addition to improved passenger mobility, the plan will relieve congestion, improve air quality, create jobs, and spur economic growth.”
These “shovel-ready projects” should be ready to proceed very soon (more details on that are also forthcoming.) Senator Correa’s vote was contingent on making sure these local jobs for local transportation needs will definitely be eligible for this state and federal funding, and it looks like Lou NAILED it.
He and his staff brush aside concerns about where the remainder of the High Speed Rail funding will come from (approximately $80 billion) and the modesty of this first line of track through the farmlands from Bakersfield to Fresno. After all, President Eisenhower didn’t know where the rest of the funding would come from when he started the Interstate Highway system, did he? But you have to start somewhere – you can’t just sit on your hands forever if you believe, as Lou does, that California has a future to look forward to.
And I’m looking forward to hearing more details soon from his helpful staff, particularly his chief of staff Amy Jenkins, who will be getting back to us OJ readers soon with what she learns from OCTA – how many jobs, and when.
Oh. PS. Diamond, who made the above photoshop, prefers the one below, which he finds “funnier.”