California High Speed Rail is the best high capacity option to mitigate traffic congestion at airports and on freeways between cities. The combination of HSR, enhanced Amtrak, enhanced commuter rail, and Metro Rail will deliver transformational mobility that silences 21st century critics the same way freeways & boulevards silenced 20th century critics. Why is high capacity, electric-powered transportation essential to California and America in general? The reasons are many and critical to 21st century lifestyles and the existential threat of Climate Change.
California Transportation Greenhouse Gases, Big Contributors to Climate Change Effects
California acquired the nickname “Golden State” due to golden brush populating its magnificent hillsides and the many sunny days lighting them. Given alternating drought conditions and the increase of deadly wildfires fueled by ignitable brush and rising temperatures in the last 15 years, you no longer have to convince most Californians that the negative effects of Climate Change have arrived. Rising Carbon Dioxide levels, followed by increasing Methane Gas and Nitrous Oxide, are the primary Greenhouse Gases (GHG) trapping heat in the atmosphere. In America, Transportation sector is the largest contributor to GHG emissions.
The most recent chart (below) from U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) illustrates state-by-state Carbon Dioxide numbers. As the two most populous states with the most solo-drivers, short flights, freight rail and freight trucking, Texas and California generate the most GHG from transportation. In California, the numbers include significant emissions from cargo ships at its seaports.
The Union of Concerned Scientists sounds the alarm bell that America must cut GHG emissions by 56% from 2005 by 2030 or we will be responsible for more frequent wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and other negative results from Climate Change. The good news is Transportation is an economic sector where we can make huge GHG reductions by 2030, while improving economic productivity at the same time.
California Transportation Smog Has Lowered, But Not Enough to Reduce Lung Disease
Like GHG emissions, most smog is transportation-related. Smog has bedeviled California cities since automobiles rose to prominence in the 1930s. In response, the state is leading America’s most aggressive initiatives to reduce smog and GHG emissions from cars, buses, freight trucking, freight rail, airports and seaports. Californians are also adopting electric cars at a faster pace than most states. Excluding wildfires, the air in Greater LA is no longer brown on sunny days. But it still gets hazy.
Despite smog reduction progress by cars, buses, freight rail and seaports, California cities still dominate the American Lung Association list of metro areas suffering the nation’s worst ozone pollution — the main component of smog. High smog levels in metro areas trigger higher levels of asthma and other lung diseases among populations within a mile of freeways, airports and seaports.
California has a Central Valley running most of the state surrounded by mountain ranges to the west and east. The combination of airborne emissions from transportation & farming, surrounding mountains, in-bound marine clouds from the Pacific Ocean, many days of sunlight and warm temperature creates inversion layers that trap smog. Despite lower polluting cars, buses and trains, as California’s average heat levels rises, it is more difficult to eliminate inversion layers. That is why, 90% of Californians live in unhealthy air counties per EPA standards — particularly those in LA, San Francisco Bay and San Diego metro areas, and the Central Valley.
California and the rest of the nation are not doing enough to reduce smog & GHG emissions, particularly from regional flights, freight trucking and solo-driving. In terms of transportation smog, we’re still gasping for clean air.
Population Growth Straining California Freeways and Airports
In 1980, California freeways and airports matched population well. People who loved driving could do 80 mph over most of the 400 miles between DT Los Angeles and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Or they could arrive at the airport, purchase a ticket, breeze through security, board a plane, fly in-state and walk to an on-airport rental car in 2 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the airport. Those speed and travel time dynamics have lengthened due to higher population producing more people flying, more regional flights of 500 miles or less, more security screening, more cars & shuttles clogging airport roadway and moving rental cars off-airport. California’s population growth rate, as measured by Statista and forecast by Public Policy Institute of California, paints an unpleasant picture for in-state transportation based on freeways and airports, if passenger rail alternatives are not built:
1980 23.7 million
1990 29.8 million
2000 33.9 million
2010 37.3 million
2017 39.5 million
2020 40.7 million
2030 44.1 million
2040 47.6 million
By 2019, metro area populations swelled to 18.8M in Los Angeles, 7.7M in San Francisco Bay, 3.9M in San Diego and 2.2M in Sacramento. Unlike the populous Northeast Corridor, the absence of High Speed Rail (HSR) in California leaves only one mobility option for time-sensitive travel between those major metro areas — north-south regional flights that produce more smog and GHG emissions. When you factor all the ground & airplane taxi delays, travel time for in-state flights now ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 hours.
For travelers who choose Northern California-Southern California freeway driving, congestion and Slow Zones for freeway repair have caused travel time to jump from 5 hours to 6.5 hours. The same drive during holidays is an 8-hour nightmare. Freeway congestion delays freight trucks, which produce the most transportation smog emissions.
Given metro area and state population growth forecasts by 2040, airport and freeway congestion will only get worse, until California HSR opens between Greater LA and San Francisco Bay Area.
Flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco are the second busiest in America, transporting over 8 million passengers annually. They are also the most delayed in the country — one of every four flights are late. Given LAX and SFO are respectively, the 2nd and 7th busiest airports in America, their flight delay ripples across the nation and globe.
In 2019, California Amtrak service is improving with new locomotives capable of 125 mph, while cutting smog & GHG emissions by 90%. Unfortunately, most track used by California Amtrak is shared with 49-59 mph freight trains and limited by federal regulation to 79 mph over most of its mileage. Even worse, Amtrak uses 1 track for 2-way traffic in too many places and has too many roadway crossings where trains must slow down for safety. The single daily Amtrak train between Los Angeles and Oakland takes 8 1/2 hours.
Under those conditions, its understandable for time-sensitive travelers to choose overburdened freeways and airports for north-south travel.
California Freeway Widening Rapidly Becoming Fool’s Gold
No state has expanded or widened as many freeways, nor added as many HOV lanes as California. Yet, Los Angeles and San Francisco are 2 of the 5 most roadway-congested cities in the world. Most freeway widenings in LA and San Francisco Bay Area reached their maximum efficiency at 8 lanes around 1990. Ditto for San Diego by 2000 and Sacramento by 2005. Since then, widening freeways to 10-14 lanes in those metro areas has been Fool’s Gold. Rush Hour speeds in San Francisco Bay Area are getting worse. Rush Hour speeds in Greater LA have lowered to 17-23 mph..
A three-part answer explains why that happened. The first part is population growth. Second, the mathematics of Queuing Theory explains that for each added freeway lane, drivers spend more time adjusting speeds and lateral motion for lane changing than forward motion. The third part is added lanes psychologically induce more solo-driving to enjoy decongested freeway for about a year. In 2 years however, the increasing number of solo-drivers and population growth reproduce congestion all over again.
Fertile soil, sunny days and water from canal infrastructure make Central Valley one of the world’s great agricultural regions. Economic bounty from agriculture, freight rail, freight trucking and establishing three universities helped Central Valley towns sprout into mid-size cities in only 75 years. Now the U.S. Census Bureau forecasts the Central Valley (Stockton, Modesto, Merced, Fresno, Hanford-Visalia-Porterville, Bakersfield, Palmdale) to add 10 million people between 2010-2040. Most Central Valley residents drive or ride by car to LA, San Francisco Bay, San Diego and Sacramento metro areas. Central Valley cities are also gateways to some of California’s astonishing national parks, drawing drivers from LA, San Francisco Bay, San Diego and Sacramento metro areas.
Despite the modest growth rate of Central Valley cities, airlines cut flights from LA, San Francisco Bay, San Diego and Sacramento metro areas because they make more profit using the same runway slots and terminal gates for more patrons on longer flights to larger metro areas. Since flights to Central Valley cities are a vanishing option, I-5 and SR-99 freeway congestion between LA and San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento is growing. That’s a big deal because traffic congestion costs California residents $28 billion/year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.
California Building Green, Fast, High-Capacity, High Frequency Passenger Transportation
California remains a beautiful and wealthy state, so people love to travel within it and to it. Residents and visitors took 361 million annual intra-state trips via all modes of travel in 2010. California intra-state travel is forecast to increase to 545 million trips annually by 2040. The State of California is fighting to preserve what they love. GHG emissions contributing to Climate Change, smog contributing to lung diseases, population growth congesting highways & airports is why the State of California must build more green, fast, high-capacity, high frequency passenger transportation modes.
The greatest instrument of that challenge is to build a 800-mile High Speed Rail System in two phases:
520-mile Phase 1 (San Francisco-San Jose-Gilroy-Central Valley-Burbank-Los Angeles-Anaheim)
280-mile Phase 2 (Merced-Sacramento and Los Angeles-San Diego extensions)
In 2008, California voters authorized a $9.95 billion bond to kickstart the non-polluting (“green”) electric-powered system capable of reaching 220 mph on viaduct separated from other Central Valley traffic and 110 mph through urban areas (“fast & safe”). Each train would have enough cabin seating for 500 to 1000 passengers (“high-capacity”) and run 4 times per hour (“frequent”). Some of that state bond money and federal money from the 2009 economic stimulus also targeted improvements to California Amtrak lines that would connect to California HSR.
The system would be constructed by a “new” California High Speed Rail Authority. I emphasize “new” because the Authority made rookie mistakes underestimating costs & schedules that critics pounced on. Nevertheless, public outreach, feasibility studies, environmental studies, engineering design and enough land acquisition completed for the mega-project to break ground in January 2015.
Here is a link to a California High Speed Rail Phases Interactive Map that allows you to quickly identify construction segments within Phase 1 (blue) plus its Phase 2 extensions (orange). Phase 1 is estimated to cost $79 billion. Phase 2 cost is TBD due to unknown start date and route alignments that are yet to be decided. Roughly 100 miles of commuter rail track in San Francisco Bay Area and Greater LA will be shared with California HSR Phase 1. Over smaller portions of the corridor, Amtrak will run on the same or parallel tracks. Freight rail will run on parallel or nearby tracks.
Though lengthy HSR viaduct is the most expensive component of this mega-project, long tunnels are the most challenging because they have so many unknowns. Underground rivers, abandoned utilities, gas pockets, surprise geological conditions, uncharted mines and historic artifacts undermine the best cost & schedule estimates. To reduce the unknowns, or as civil engineers like to say, “de-risk” tunneling projects, California HSR Authority began by studying older rail tunnels in the same Northern and Southern California mountain ranges where HSR tunnels are planned. Geologists have taken deep core samples of planned alignments in those mountains. California HSR Authority also hired Swiss tunnel consultants who worked on the longest rail tunnels under the Alps. All environmental and pre-engineering studies of planned tunnels complete in 2021.
In 2019, California High Speed Rail (HSR) Authority arrived at a credible $79 billion estimate using 9 years of staff experience on the project, staff & consultant experience from related rapid transit tunnel projects in California, consultants from successful HSR projects worldwide, additional management oversight, and best practice in infrastructure cost & schedule risk modeling — Monte Carlo Simulation.
HSR Trope-Critics Prey on Citizens Uninformed Knowledge of Infrastructure Costs
Initial criticism of the mega-project’s underestimated cost & schedule served a public good by forcing California HSR Authority to get its act together. Yet the compelling value proposition for California HSR remains. Ongoing criticism should focus on how to keep costs & scheduling under control. Unfortunately, there are powerful enemies against electric powered mass transportation.
Preying on the public’s lack of knowledge of what makes all infrastructure mega-projects cost multiple billion dollars, California HSR critics repeat the same tropes in news media, “Railroad is old technology. Its a train to nowhere. Its a boondoggle. It will never finish. Halt the project to expand freeways and airports.” Those trope-critics are really good with soundbites that dull judgment without useful public enlightenment.
HSR trope-critics don’t mention that eight of the nine largest California airports have no adjacent open land for runway expansion. They don’t mention that due to existing burden of air and noise pollution, airport-adjacent communities in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, Burbank, Irvine, Ontario and San Diego reject more land-taking for airport runways. Some have blocked adding airport terminal gates. Only Sacramento International Airport has open land to add runways and terminal gates. Trope-critics don’t mention that airlines are canceling regional flights to Central Valley cities. HSR trope-critics don’t mention that the state has already converted freeway medians to lanes throughout LA, San Francisco Bay, San Diego and Sacramento metro areas. The last “easy” freeway widenings complete by 2023-24, land values are surging and more metro area commuters are learning that traffic congestion returns two years after freeway widening.
Aside from airport and freeway issues, here’s the compelling TAXPAYER reason to fund California HSR. In a report commissioned by the California HSR Authority with access to State of California highway and aviation data, the cost of adding equivalent passenger capacity in freeways and airports is estimated to be:
$170 billion for 2300 new Freeway-lane miles + 115 Airport gates & 4 runways
$79 billion for California HSR Phase 1
Rough order of magnitude estimates indicate that California HSR, compared to the alternatives, is a bargain for taxpayers. Its also cost-efficient compared to other high-capacity transportation infrastructure. For example, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s 2-mile eastern span cost $6.4 billion to complete its rebuild in 2013. A second 7- or 8-mile San Francisco-Oakland transbay tube for rapid transit is estimated to cost $12-15 billion. Considering experience from building HSR viaduct superstructure, tunnel de-risking measures and the cost of other high-capacity transportation infrastructure, the $79 billion estimate for 520-mile California HSR Phase 1 ($148 million/mile) passes the sniff test for cost effectiveness per mile.
California HSR Door-to-Door Travel Time Advantage
Going from city hub to city hub in 3 hours or less has more benefits. Thousands of passengers arrive at the transportation hub by rapid transit and shuttles instead of more low-capacity cars that congest freeways. The latter benefit is why California HSR qualifies for state GHG Reduction funds. Transportation hubs fill with shops, lounges, cafes, artwork, business services and attract nearby hotels. Some have great plazas for people-watching as well. Business patrons use their mobile devices for productive travel time at the transportation hubs and on trains. Everyone enjoys walking to the HSR and Amtrak train dining car and restroom when they please.
Rapid Transit Networks & Amtrak Will Feed Passengers to California HSR
Greater LA and San Francisco Bay Area commuter rail systems that will share track with California HSR are the “Bookends” to Phase 1. Some of those commuter rail tracks are already shared with Amtrak. In the last last 8 years, the Bookends have added more over/underpasses and safety technology. Low-emission commuter rail and Amtrak trains have been added. One Amtrak California line is boosting frequency and increasing speed in stretches shared with Metrolink commuter rail at present and California HSR in the future. The first intermodal transportation hubs to be shared with California HSR have already opened in DT San Francisco, SFO Airport and Anaheim. DT Los Angeles and San Jose intermodal hubs have begun final design to be followed by engineering. Initial planning for a Burbank Airport hub has started.
More Construction in the California HSR Bookends
Despite the 2019 spat between the Governor and President, HSR construction milestones continue. There 119-mile superstructure construction zone in the Central Valley. State funding is secured to extend that to 171 miles in the Central Valley.
Ongoing rapid transit projects will make California HSR, more accessible when service begins. Los Angeles rapid transit network is expanding to 4 or 5 planned California HSR Stations by 2040. The recently opened Anaheim Regional Intermodal Transportation Center (ARTIC) is the Orange County hub to transfer between Amtrak, Metrolink, Disneyland & Anaheim Convention Center shuttles, regional buses and Taxi/Uber/Lyft today and California HSR in the future. Giant residential and retail developments have opened near ARTIC. Many LA County HSR corridor intersections are getting over/underpasses that will unsnarl automotive, Amtrak, commuter rail and freight rail traffic.
San Francisco Bay Area rapid transit network is expanding and will access four planned California HSR Stations. In 2018, Salesforce Transit Center completed in DT San Francisco for Greyhound, Megabus, Amtrak coaches, regional buses, Taxi/Uber/Lyft and bikeshare. When the tunnel extension to Salesforce Transit Center opens, its lower level will serve Caltrain commuter rail and eventually, California HSR. Salesforce Transit Center has been the catalyst to a redevelopment boom in that area of San Francisco. San Mateo and Burlingame railway overpasses will soon begin construction to unsnarl roadway traffic, while making Caltrain safer and quieter before California HSR service.
Here is a sample of Amtrak, Caltrain, BART, Metrolink, Metro Heavy Rail, Light Rail projects and transit-oriented development coming before California HSR Phase 1 completes:
2019-21 Google is building a 20,000-person village surrounding San Jose Diridon Transportation Center to ease employee transport from all parts of Northern California. Over 500 Small/Disadvantaged/Disabled Veteran businesses are working on the California HSR project, earning over $251 million to date.
2021: California HSR funding helps LA Metro Light Rail complete an underground connector for two lines that feed LA Union Station, DT Los Angeles and one line that serves USC and LA Coliseum to host the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
2022: California HSR funding helps Caltrain commuter rail complete electrification between San Francisco-San Jose for faster, frequent, greener and quieter trains.
2024: California HSR completes more railroad overpasses in the Central Valley for smoother automotive and freight rail flow. California HSR funding helps complete railroad grade separations in LA Union Station-Anaheim corridor for faster, quieter and safer Metrolink and Amtrak services.
2025: California HSR funding helps complete San Jose Diridon Transportation Center upgrade for more frequent Caltrain, BART (Metro Heavy Rail), VTA Light Rail, BRT, shared rides, taxis, local buses and bikeshare.
2026-27 California HSR funding helps complete LA Union Station upgrade for ridership increases coming from LA Museum District, Beverly Hills, Century City, UCLA/Westwood, and two other points of the compass. California HSR helps complete a tunnel to Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco, enabling electric Caltrain service in the entire San Francisco-San Jose-Gilroy corridor.
2028: Amtrak Joaquin Oakland and Amtrak Joaquin Sacramento trains speed-boost to 90-110 mph and connect at Merced to California HSR where trains will run to 220 mph in Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield corridor. Amtrak Motorcoach connects from a northern Metrolink station to California HSR Bakersfield station. Amtrak Surfliner will run 50% more frequent and 10-20 mph faster from Santa Barbara to DT Los Angeles and San Diego. More Metro Light Rail extensions and Metrolink upgrades to LA Union Station complete in time for the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
2029-30: More overpasses complete for Caltrain to increase frequency and reach 90 mph. Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink commuter trains increase frequency 33% higher than today in Burbank-LA Union Station-Anaheim-Laguna Niguel corridor and boost to 90-110 mph via new overpasses, track and safety upgrades. Depending on how Las Vegas-LA HSR project progresses, one Metrolink line may be electrified in Palmdale-Santa Clarita-Burbank-LA Union Station corridor.
This link to California Statewide Rail Modernization Map illustrates how passenger access & transfers will improve via shared stations between California HSR, Amtrak Capitol Corridor, Amtrak San Joaquin (Oakland & Sacramento lines), Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, Caltrain, ACE commuter rail and Metrolink commuter rail. If the map included Metro Heavy Rail and Metro Light Rail lines by 2040, it would have to be separated into four separate metro area maps.
California HSR Design Benefits From Worldwide HSR Leaders
Transporting 10 billion passengers through earthquake country since 1964, Japan’s HSR system has never experienced a deadly accident due to technology or operator error. Shinkansen High Speed Trains (HST) are famous for running 12 cabin trains at 20 trains per hour with an earthquake warning system that automatically brakes trains in case of large earthquake. In 2011, the 9.0 Earthquake and Tsunami killed hundreds of people, washed away Sendai Airport and triggered a nuclear power plant meltdown. Japanese railway engineering design however, prevented a single HST in operation from derailing. After safety checks, Shinkansen HST returned to service hours later.
Since opening in 1981, France has never experienced a deadly HSR accident during commercial operation and only once in test mode. Their famed HSR system, the TGV, has set many HST speed standards. German and British railway engineers have mastered access design and timed-transfers between HSR, Commuter Rail, Metro Rail and Trams (Light Rail) to maximize ridership and passenger convenience. The Swiss have built the world’s longest high-speed rail tunnels under the Alps, permitting HST speeds up to 155 mph through them.
Via common best practices, HST operate at 155-217 mph over world-class HSR mileage today. R&D is further improving HST with less aerodynamic drag, lower exterior noise and lower cabin noise at higher speeds. Over 2020-26, France, Japan, China, Spain, South Korea, Italy and United Kingdom will introduce HST that operate up to 224 mph with lower energy consumption per unit of speed as compared to current HST.
The Authority is hiring some of their best railway and tunneling consultants to join with local geologists and civil engineers designing California HSR. The Authority plans to license a private HST operator to run the latest generation HST up to 220 mph in Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield-Palmdale corridor viaduct.
Once Federal Funding Steps Up, Big Private Funding Follows
In 2009-10, President Obama authorized $3.5 billion towards California HSR project. Since 2011, California HSR bond money, state transportation, state environmental protection funds, regional taxes, county taxes, city & freight rail rights-of-way and naming rights fees are paying for most construction.
Google is buying property between San Jose Diridon Transportation Center and San Jose International Airport to gain a labor market advantage with more employees who take rapid transit or HSR to work and those who need to fly often. In San Francisco, Salesforce is paying $110 million for 25-year naming rights to what was formerly called Transbay Transit Center. Anaheim, San Jose, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Fresno, Burbank and Anaheim will entertain Transit Oriented Development and possibly, naming rights proposals.
Going forward, California HSR Authority has identified sufficient state and local funding for Amtrak Oakland and Amtrak Sacramento lines to meet up with California HSR Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield viaduct and complete many overpasses, track and safety upgrades in the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater LA Bookends by 2030.
According to 2019 California HSR Business Plan Update, it will cost about $12 billion to go from San Jose to Gilroy, then through a new Pacheco Pass tunnel to connect with Central Valley HSR viaduct near Merced (San Jose-Merced segment). Federal and State money must build this segment before big private investors jump in, beyond paying for station naming rights.
Infrastructure has become a big enough voting factor that a massive U.S. Infrastructure Bill may pass in 2020. California has enough Congressional clout to get a large slice of it. Assuming the California acquires most of the $12 billion for San Jose-Merced HSR segment from the feds, that will create a San Francisco-Bakersfield corridor, plus Merced extension. By 2029-30 it could demonstrate 220 mph top speed over 171 miles in a growing 10 million-person corridor. Around the world in democratic nations, most 155-205 mph HSR routes in 10 million-person corridors generate operating profit in 5-6 years. Those conditions will entice big private investors to join federal and state funding sources.
Big private investors will have two opportunities to join: (1) Bakersfield-Palmdale HSR segment ($12.5 billion) to extend service to the edge of Greater LA; (2) Palmdale-Burbank HSR segment ($17 billion) to enable Las Vegas-LA HSR to operate through the longest tunnel, before California HSR reaches Burbank Airport Intermodal Station and LA Union Station. Ideally, both segments should enter construction at the same time to limit cost inflation.
The state is not asking for a federal hand-out. In the last 40 years, California taxpayers have given far more than they receive from the federal government. If California HSR received $35 billion from the U.S. Department of Transportation on top of current federal funding levels, California would still be a donor state to the U.S. Treasury.
Under the Obama Administration and Democrat-majority House and Senate, California received federal funding jolt of $3.5 billion in 2009-10. If federal funding continued at $2 billion/year over 2011-19, San Francisco-San Jose-Gilroy-Fresno-Bakersfield-Palmdale HSR segment would be opening and more Bookend work would complete by 2029. California HSR Phase 1 would complete in 2033, saving taxpayers at least $15 billion dollars. Even if the federal funding substantially reengages in 2020 and the last three segments have significant construction overlap, it will be very difficult for California HSR Phase 1 to complete before 2036.
Conclusion — Voters Want A Big Infrastructure Deal
Based on consistent polling, Infrastructure Investment is the one area of unanimous support by voters in both parties. Demand for infrastructure investment has risen on the domestic priority lists of both political parties at the state level, just behind healthcare. Commuters want it to reduce traffic congestion. Trade unions want it for jobs. Corporations want it so employees can get to work easier. Manufacturers and chambers of commerce want it for better logistics and lower shipping costs. Agribusiness wants it for more water. Environmentalists want it to mitigate GHG. Health Care Providers want it to cut smog emissions that lead to lung disease.
In 2016, the current president made a campaign promise of $1 trillion for infrastructure investment that would generate millions of good-paying jobs. That big promise had appeal to unemployed & underemployed craft workers. Hoping to receive more federal matching funds, every state is passing infrastructure bills for long delayed and new mega-projects.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis and International Monetary Fund reports that American GDP was $19.4 Trillion in 2017 and California’s GDP was equivalent to the United Kingdom. Understanding the size of our economy and governors reminding him about infrastructure project backlog, the new president appeared to want a large Infrastructure Bill in 2017. For reasons unclear, the President did not negotiate hard with the Republican-majority House & Senate to accept a $500-600 billion Infrastructure budget increase and a smaller tax cut for the wealthy. If he did, the Democrat-minority House & Senate would have signed off. Alas, that did not happen.
In 2019, Democrat-majority House and Democrat-minority Senate initiated negotiations with the President on an U.S. Infrastructure Bill that would require higher taxes on the wealthy starting in 2020. Negotiations were squashed by the President or Republican Senate-majority leader.
As our nation transitions from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates are educating million of voters that fixing our infrastructure will create millions of good-paying jobs that help people reach or sustain the American Dream of middle-class lifestyles. If a large U.S. Infrastructure Bill is not passed by mid-2020, it will loom large heading into the November 2020 Election. Just as political pressure built up for Health Care bills, political signs point to a large U.S. Infrastructure Bill in 2021, if not sooner.
Within the U.S. Infrastructure Bill, some states want more investment in Waterworks and Big Utilities. California is among the states demanding more Transportation investment, particularly for HSR, Amtrak and rapid transit. The timing is critical for California because in 2021, Environmental Impact Reports complete for all viaduct and tunnel segments in California HSR Phase 1. The fate of timely investment in those segments will rest on the 2021 President and Congress.
While tunnels and viaduct are under construction, San Francisco Bay Area and Greater LA will benefit from enhanced Amtrak, commuter rail and freight rail in corridors to be shared with California HSR. It appears that Las Vegas-LA HSR will also share corridor segments with California HSR.