To the editor: I take issue with state Sen. Kevin de Leon's (D-Los Angeles) desire to reconfigure the construction of California's high-speed rail system. Too many have worked too hard to start all over again, as De Leon suggests. In fact, $3.4 billion in federal money must be spent by 2017 or the state loses that critical funding. ("Next Senate leader Kevin de León wants Brown to rethink bullet train," June 22)
De Leon is wrong on other issues:
- The Central Valley is not the middle of nowhere. It is home to 3 million Californians and is the fastest-growing region of the state.
- Amtrak's San Joaquin line through the Central Valley is the fifth most heavily traveled in Amtrak's system.
- The Central Valley was picked not just because it is the easiest, cheapest place to build but also because building the system's spine in the Central Valley first will ensure that the full network gets built.
- For too long the Central Valley has been isolated economically from San Francisco and Los Angeles. The rail system will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
- If De Leon is worried about pollution, the Central Valley has the dirtiest air in the nation.
Now that De Leon is about to become leader of the Senate, he needs to broaden his horizons beyond his district.
David Cameron, Los Angeles
The writer is assistant to the director of the Teamsters Rail Conference.
To the editor: I agree that it's wrong to build the first section of California's bullet train between Bakersfield and Madera.
What concerns me more than the staggering construction cost is trying to operate an expensive transportation network that does not have the kind of population base needed to support it.
Proponents claim that this first section of track will be a great testing ground. We have teachers going underpaid, children going hungry, the sick going untreated and numerous other problems that need legislators' attention. Spending billions on a 130-mile test track is foolish in light of this.
When we have money to spend, we must spend it wisely and where it can do the most good for all Californians.
Jeffrey Stein, Calabasas
To the editor: There is a wide median separating the northbound and southbound lanes on the 5 Freeway north of Los Angeles.
It seems to me that if the bullet train could run along that median, it would provide a more direct route and would eliminate the need to take private property and to share train tracks, as is the case on the Bakersfield-Madera route.
Sandra Wolber, Granada Hills
To the editor: De Leon says that the governor would be wiser to spend bullet-train money at the "bookends" of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
I suggest that he get out a map of California and refresh his memory: Neither San Francisco nor Los Angeles is a "bookend."
Janet King, San Diego