The $20 billion dollar transportation bond voters approved last November includes two billion specifically set aside to improve the movement of goods through trade corridors. That means freight, folks.
Almost every big item the typical California family uses - cars, refrigerators, washing machines - has spent some time rumbling through the state on a train owned by a private freight railroad. You can’t improve goods movement without improving the tracks those trains run on.
Still - anytime the state proposes giving public funds to private railroads - skepticism is healthy. Railroads have a history of stiffing the public. That’s why the governor must get something tangible from the railroads.
In our region, Union Pacific railroad wants state help to enlarge rail tunnels over Donner summit so it can move more freight over the Sierra. Great. But in exchange, the state should demand more access for passenger trains into Placer County. Currently, UP permits only one round trip a day between Auburn, Roseville and the Bay Area. The public needs and should demand at least ten.
If Southern California doesn’t want bond money spent on rail, send the money north. We can use it.
Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.