Skip to content
CityLab
Transportation

The 8 Best Jerry Brown Lines from California's High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking

A dig at Republican critics, a kind-of dig at martini drinkers, a call for state unity, and more.
relates to The 8 Best Jerry Brown Lines from California's High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking
Screenshot of California High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking Live Stream

Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony in Fresno for California's long-awaited high-speed rail line had all the fixings of fine political ceremony. There was plenty of rhetorical back-slapping from federal and local officials (much of it deserved), and lots of comparisons to other great American infrastructure projects (the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge, to name two). There were construction workers in hard hats who wouldn't be needing them (except perhaps to guard from heavy praise). There was even a hashtag for the kids: #iwillride.

There was a labor leader referencing the Irish contribution to America's great railroads while speaking with a heavy brogue. There were fun facts: two railroad tracks can carry as many passengers in an hour as 16 lanes of freeway, according to FRA chief Joseph Szabo, and the cranes and bulldozers being used to build the line will be low-emission Tier 4 vehicles—the cleanest on the market—said EPA chief Gina McCarthy. There was the requisite hyperbole that this is the "greatest infrastructure project built in the history of this nation," and while that's not the case, it's surely one of the greatest in recent times.