Capping a dramatic showdown over the most expensive project in state history, California leaders on Friday gave final approval to the controversial high-speed rail project, firing the nation's first bullet train toward construction after an impassioned debate over whether the $69 billion price tag was too big of a gamble for the state's fragile economy.
The Democrat-controlled Senate passed the first $8 billion leg of the $69 billion project -- by a single vote, fittingly -- to launch the most expensive public works project any state has undertaken in U.S. history. Following the Assembly's approval on Thursday, there is now nothing left in the path of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan that voters approved four years ago.
"Ten, 20, 30 years form now, Californians will be glad that we made the decision and that they have a 21st Century modern transportation system that will be the pride of the country, and the pride of the world," said Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
The first 130-miles of track will begin construction in the Central Valley next year, laying the backbone for a 520-mile high speed rail system to be completed by 2029.
The 3-hour journey between San Francisco to Los Angeles is expected to cost around $85 in today's dollars for one-way ticket. The train would travel up to 220 mph, and would include stops in Millbrae, San Jose, Gilroy and possibly Anaheim.
"The things that dreams are made of, California does right,'' said Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) told the Mercury News.
Every member of the CA GOP Senate Caucus voted against funding. They were joined in opposition by 4 Democratic senators - Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, Mark DeSaulnier, of Concord, Alan Lowenthal, of Long Beach, and surprisingly, Fran Pavley, of Agoura Hills.