Thinking Ahead: High-Speed Rail In Southern California

Newly released report examines the benefits of high-speed rail in southern California

Aug 26, 2010, 21:39 ET from Center for Urban Infrastructure

IRVINE, Calif., Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Thinking Ahead: High-Speed Rail in Southern California, a new report released today by the Center for Urban Infrastructure, showcases the benefits of a fast, convenient, and efficient intercity high-speed rail system on southern California's economy.

"Just as the Interstate Highway System transformed the way Americans lived and where they worked in the 1950's, high-speed rail has the same transformative potential today," said Sarah L. Catz, author of Thinking Ahead: High-Speed Rail in California and Director, Center for Urban Infrastructure.

According to the study, the California High-Speed Rail Project, which will ultimately link Sacramento to San Diego, will contribute a regional income benefit of $701 million to southern California workers who otherwise would have been unemployed.  By 2035, high-speed rail will attract over 127,000 new permanent jobs to southern California due to the region's increased livability and enhanced transportation network.  

By providing an alternative to automobiles, high-speed rail will be a major catalyst for expansion of southern California's emerging "green" economy.  It will prevent the emission of nearly half a billion pounds of CO2 annually by 2035.  Additionally, high-speed rail will encourage a healthful lifestyle because it will require commuters to walk or bike for a portion of their trip.

The report examines high-speed rail's impact in relation to recent legislative initiatives that mandate a reduction in statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (AB 32), and the coordination of regional land use and transportation planning (SB 375) in support of those reduction targets.

The report explores strategies needed to ensure that cities around the region benefit from the $2.34 billion investment made in California from federal stimulus funds, streamlining zoning and land use codes suitable for intensified development.  This will allow cities to cluster their housing, retail and office space in ridership and station area developments.  The majority of federal funds granted to the state will be spent in southern California for construction of a high-speed rail line from Bakersfield to Fresno.

The study was presented to a conference entitled, "The Light at the End of the Tunnel: Planning for High-Speed Rail in Orange County and Southern California."  Over 100 government, business and civic leaders from Orange County and Southern California attended the conference held at Brandman University in Irvine.  The conference was sponsored by the Orange County Transportation Association, Veolia Transportation, HDR NRG Energy West, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Brandman University.

Conference speakers included Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, Chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA); former state Assemblyman Tom Umberg, Vice Chair of CHSRA; Art Leahy, CEO of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Will Kempton, CEO of the Orange County Transportation Authority; U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez and developer Emile Haddad, CEO of Five Points Communities.

"Cities with a high-speed rail station will grow and transition into hubs of commerce.  Regions with commuter connections to the high-speed rail system will take advantage of development opportunities," said Curt Pringle.  "This study is a reminder that high-speed rail can provide communities tremendous opportunities to reinvent themselves, and prosper in the process."

The conference also included a vigorous discussion that explored strategies for creating and financing a multi-modal transit system including high-speed rail, higher-speed rail as well as regional and local transit connections.  A White Paper detailing the thoughts and recommendations of conference participants will be released in fall 2010 the complete report can be found at

About the Center for Urban Infrastructure

The Center for Urban Infrastructure (CUI) is an interdisciplinary forum that brings an objective, innovative approach to a wide range of emerging policy issues relating to transportation infrastructure, urban development and community design.

CUI considers urban issues at the local, regional and national levels, connecting key experts' insights and capabilities from throughout California and around the United States in search of practical solutions. Among the issues addressed by CUI are transportation, land use, water, energy, urban design, housing and the relationships between urban centers and the use and integration of natural resources.

CUI looks at policy concerns from every angle. CUI serves as a conduit joining the theoretical work of academia to the practical insights of policy makers, government manager, economists, lawyers, industry leaders and technologists, and applies results to specific policy concerns and project analyses.

About Brandman University

Built on Chapman University's century-and-a-half legacy of academic excellence, Brandman University, formerly Chapman University College, is a private, non-profit, fully accredited university that provides a quality education to working adults - online and at 26 campuses throughout California and Washington. Part of the Chapman University System, Brandman offers over 200 innovative degree, certificate, credential and professional development programs in Business, Arts and Sciences, Health, and Education.

SOURCE Center for Urban Infrastructure