Gov. Jerry Brown was in downtown San Francisco Wednesday to sign an $8 billion funding measure to start construction on what is expected to be the country's fastest rail system.
Brown stood on a platform at the construction site of the Transbay Transit Center -- the future northern terminus of California's high-speed
train system -- and called the passage of SB 1029 "bold risk-taking" on the part of those who supported it. He compared it to the passage of legislation that led to the construction of the BART system more than 50 years ago.
"When BART was approved, my father was governor," Brown said. "It barely passed."
The state Senate approved the high-speed rail funding bill by a margin of just one vote on July 6.
Senate president pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who supported the bill, thanked the governor for his leadership and "for not giving up on the future."
"We've got to build high-speed rail," Steinberg said. "You can pave the farmlands with new roads and black out skies with airplanes, but the air we breathe will be no better than a tailpipe."
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee called the Transbay Transit Center the "future Grand Central Station of the West," and complemented the governor and
the mayors of Los Angeles, Fresno, Sacramento and San Jose for supporting the vision of high-speed rail and infrastructure investments in the face of
budget cuts and widespread public criticism.
"We're not waiting," Lee said. "High-speed rail is the connector for our future investment across the state."
Under SB 1029, transit agencies at high-speed rail's "bookends" -- the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego -- will benefit from millions of
dollars in early investments to modernize local rail systems.