Uncle Sam invests $2.25b in Valley bullet train

An artist's conception of a high-speed rail car in California.

The one big thing the Obama administration did for the San Joaquin Valley (which he barely set foot in) was to appropriate stimulus money to fund the Valley segment of the high-speed rail system.

It was a needed boost. Around 2009, the statewide unemployment rate was 12.4 percent. the Central Valley rate was 17 percent.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 gave $2.55 billion to the suth Valley “to address the Great Recession by creating jobs, spurring technological development and building new infrastructure. ”

Unfortuately, the bullet train ran into a double buzzsaw. First, farmers. Farmers oppose everything. Second, red-Valley conservatives determined to oppose everything Obama.

Yet:

“The funds helped advance construction on over 119 miles in the Central Valley from Madera to north of Bakersfield with 14 active construction sites. The results of this work include:

• Over 1,400 craft laborers doing construction work.

• 630 private sector firms working on high-speed rail.

• More than 400 small businesses, including 116 disadvantaged businesses enterprises and 45 disabled veteran business enterprises.

Now you can kvetch that the math works out to $21.4 million per mile. Or you can applaud the High-Speed Rail Administration’s claim that the stimulus “generated approximately $4 billion in economic activity in the Central Valley and across California” building a system that will boost Stockton’s economy.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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