Newsom Home From France With New Passion

High-speed rail now, says Newsom

His new passion moves at over 200 miles per hour.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took a tour of the French high speed rail system (TGV) in Paris Monday and said that California's new version of the train is a "requirement" for the Transbay Terminal being planned for San Francisco's South of Market area.

"Since the onset of this project, I have been committed to the grand vision of Transbay, including high speed rail, a downtown extension for Caltrain and the visionary multi-use terminal itself," Newsom said. "Including the rail box as part of the terminal construction is necessary for this grand vision to be realized."

In November, California voters approved about $10 billion that would pay for starting a high speed rail system.

It is designed to link the largest cities in the state by rail. Phase one, the spine of the system, would link Los Angeles to San Francisco, through the central Valley. Links  to San Diego and Sacramento would be added after.

Newsom's office has said that the plans are not certain as to whether the rail would come into the Transbay Terminal. He said it was vital that it did.

“We’re not going to build a $2 billion bus station under my watch,” said Newsom.

The Transbay Joint Powers Board, which oversees development of the Transbay Terminal, has considered building the first phase of the new terminal without the train terminal, and coming back later to excavate under the terminal and build for high speed rail only if subsequent funding materializes. 

On Monday, Newsom came out against that idea, suggesting that the Transbay Joint Powers Board should not move forward on construction of the new transit center until funding is secured for the inclusion of high speed rail and it is fully integrated into the first phase of the project.

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“High speed rail is a game changer in California, but only if it connects the downtown transit hubs of the two largest metro areas in the state," Newsom said. "Building a high speed rail route that stops short of downtown San Francisco equates to building a major highway that ends before it reaches a city.”

The Mayor identified the Transbay Terminal as a textbook example of the type of infrastructure project that Federal stimulus and recovery funding should be funding.

“The Transbay Terminal is the first rail facility built from the ground up in 70 years and it will revolutionize our transportation system by increasing environmentally friendly transportation options," Newsom said. "It will also create over 2,600 good paying construction jobs in the first phase of construction. It's just the kind of infrastructure project we need to get the country back on track.”

At Monday's event in Paris, TGV officials gave Mayor Newsom with a briefing on the history, construction, and operation of the TGV System, and a first-hand opportunity to ride the TGV and see its operations up close.

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