Today's NARP Hotline brings out a point that hasn't been covered much:
...without the high speed rail system, the state will need to build as much as 2,300 additional lane-miles of highways, 4 additional runways, and 115 additional airline gates to accommodate the travel needs of the state's growing population—projected to increase from 38 million people today to 60 million people by 2050. Those projects would cost an estimated $171 billion, in total, making the rail line seem like a bargain in comparison.
Neither choice takes into account the "third option": California just doesn't accommodate the growing population, infrastructure-wise. Between the current GOP attitude toward spending, the state's financial position, and (sadly) the fact that the state is "electorally misaligned" against the GOP (Dubya didn't break 45% there in 2004, and the state's Democratic trend certainly feels inexorable), it's entirely possible that the GOP could more or less write it off and the state could be told to "suck it up" and the state simply fails to provide the transportation capacity needed.
In particular, I think the airport situation that's listed may be unsolvable...the problem you are running into in the LA area is a lack of airspace
, not to mention that southern CA is juggling multiple semi-major airports in the same airspace. Simply put, unless CA is going to start kicking some international flights to Phoenix, Las Vegas, or San Diego, there may not be the airspace capacity to be had. The problem there is a combination of air dispatching and physics: You can flog a bit more out of the region's airspace, but at some point you simply can't get more planes in safely.
A question with this situation: Is there any examination of a "cheap" option for at least getting a through train running through the Valley on the San Joaquin route in place? IIRC, Techiapi is already at capacity and then some, so is there some way that a "high speed conventional" route (i.e. 90-125 MPH) could be done for less? It wouldn't have the same appeal, but between higher gas prices, the time savings off of the Central Valley line with the current segment, and allowing a through train, you might be able to seriously close losses simply on traffic being forced over.
Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)
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