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California voters to decide whether to build high-speed rail system

SACRAMENTO, California -- The Associated Press reports that state voters will decide in 2004 whether to spend nearly dlrs 10 billion on a high-speed rail system and other public transportation under a measure Gov. Gray Davis signed Thursday.

"This launches a new era of transportation in this state," Davis said at a ceremony at the state's railroad museum.

The bill, by Democratic state Sen. Jim Costa ( news, bio, voting record), would authorize the sale of dlrs 9.95 billion in bonds to help pay for a 700-mile (1,126-kilometer) system with trains running at top speeds of more than 200 mph (322 kph).

Most of the money, dlrs 9 billion, would be spent on the first leg of the system, which would connect Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno and San Francisco. Later links would stretch to Sacramento and San Diego.

The rest of the money would be used to improve light rail and other public transportation systems.

Davis' signature puts the measure on the November 2004 ballot.

The total cost of the first leg was estimated at dlrs 13.7 billion. Supporters hope to get federal funding to cover the rest of the cost.

Supporters say California will need high-speed trains as its population booms. Critics contend the money would be better spent on highway improvements.

Friday, September 20, 2002

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