The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 16, 2013

Eyes on the high-speed line

FRESNO, Calif. — After decades of promises, plans and politics, California has finally reached the construction phase of its high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But a judge’s ruling last month could derail the $68 billion project, setting new legal and financial hurdles in the path of a proposed 520-mile railroad for 220-mile-an-hour bullet trains.

Championed by Gov. Jerry Brown as a transforming project akin to the early freeways and the Golden Gate Bridge, the high-speed rail line would be America’s first, and the project is being closely watched in the Northeast by boosters of a similar line between Washington and Boston.

If California succeeds, Americans could experience at home the kind of travel widely available in Europe, Japan and China. A 475-mile, L.A.-to-San Francisco train ride is slated to take two hours and 40 minutes, three hours less than the 380-mile car trip.

In addition to fast travel, the project promises to deliver up to 66,000 construction jobs a year and 400,000 related jobs, reduced highway and airport congestion, and cleaner air.

If successful, it could whet the appetite for similar trains in the Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest rail route.

But if the California project dies, “critics will quickly point to that” to challenge any high-speed trains for the Northeast, said Drew Galloway, Amtrak’s chief of Northeast Corridor planning and performance.

“There is a lot riding on California’s success.”

“If California were to collapse, it makes it much harder for the Northeast,” said Dan Schned, a senior planner for the Regional Plan Association in New York City, which has long pushed for high-speed trains on the Northeast Corridor.

“It would make it open to the criticism that nobody wants this.”

If the California project is completed on its current schedule, high-speed trains would be running by 2022 between Merced and Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, a distance of about 300 miles. The complete route, connecting L.A.’s iconic Union Station and Anaheim to a new Transbay Terminal in San Francisco, is supposed to be operating by 2029.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Congress reaches agreement on VA reform With days left before the August break, congressional leaders unveiled a $17 billion bipartisan compromise Monday to fix the tattered Department of Veterans Affairs.

    July 28, 2014

  • Residency case targets state GOP legislator A residency dispute involving a Minnesota legislator has landed in court and could put a Republican-held seat in contention at a time when the party is fighting to wrest chamber control from Democrats.

    July 28, 2014

  • 8,000 get false notice of health care cancellation ST. PAUL — More than 8,000 low-income Minnesotans received erroneous notices that their health coverage would be temporarily canceled if they don't pay up. A July 17 notice warned MinnesotaCare subscribers that they faced a four-month coverage locko

    July 28, 2014

  • ND deputy hurt in scuffle Suspect charged with assaulting, trying to disarm law officer

    July 28, 2014

  • Fergus Falls plans deer hunt Hunters are selected by a lottery, pay $20 fee

    July 28, 2014

  • Man killed in home invasion Homeowner's son in Ray, Minn., fires fatal shot

    July 28, 2014

  • Charges filed in July 8 fatal Dodge Center woman criminally charged in fatal car crash

    July 28, 2014

  • American doctor in Africa gets treatment for Ebola BOONE, N.C. (AP) — An American doctor infected with the deadly Ebola disease received intensive treatment Sunday in West Africa and was in stable condition, talking to his medical team and working on his computer, a spokeswoman for an aid group said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Salmonella Outbreak Trial [Duplicate] Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia ATLANTA (AP) — Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georg

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitfalls emerge in health insurance renewals WASHINGTON — For the 8 million people who persevered through all the technical travails in the new health insurance exchanges and managed to sign up for coverage in 2014, their policies will probably automatically renew come November when open enroll

    July 27, 2014