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Los Angeles MTA backs a bullet train route through high desert

(The Los Angeles Times posted the following article by Kurt Streeter on its website on March 26.)

LOS ANGELES -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority decided Thursday to back a proposed high-speed rail route through the Antelope Valley.

The route is one of two options being studied by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is now nearing completion on a plan for a $37-billion electric-powered bullet train that would go from Los Angeles' Union Station to downtown San Francisco in two hours and 25 minutes.

The state-backed authority proposed two routes in an environmental review that was released in January and is to be completed during the next several months. One plan calls for a route between Bakersfield and Los Angeles that would run roughly parallel to the Golden State Freeway. Another option is to build tracks between Bakersfield and Los Angeles through the Antelope Valley, with a stop in Palmdale.

The cost would be about the same for either route. But travel time — the bullet train's prime selling point in what would likely be fierce competition with air travel — would probably increase on a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco by at least 12 minutes if the train went through the Antelope Valley.

MTA officials said the time lost would be offset by making the train accessible Antelope Valley commuters..

A $10-billion bond measure allowing construction to begin on the project is set to be placed before voters statewide in November. But legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are working to move the measure to 2006 because of the budget crisis.

Friday, March 26, 2004

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