June 17, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Even though California Republicans can’t resist the opportunity to say that there isn’t money to build high speed rail, although there’s plenty of money to go around, the California building trades are in the trenches to finally build the country’s first true high-speed rail network.
The California High Speed Rail Authority issued a statement with accompanying photos on Tuesday to say that construction workers started this week the construction of the Fresno River Viaduct, which is the first aerial structure of the first 29-mile mile stretch being built by the consortium of Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons.
“Continued progress on the high-speed rail program is evident by the work being done today at the Fresno River Bridge,” said High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales. “Californians will continue to see more jobs and sustainable construction activity as we ramp up building high-speed rail in the Central Valley.”
Despite the progress, California Republicans led by Rep. Jeff Denham, who ironically is the chair of the Railroads subcommittee in the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy are hell bent on denying the California High Speed Rail Authority $3 billion in federal funds unless the state can match it.
Kevin Ferreira, financial secretary and treasurer for the Sacramento-Sierras Building and Construction Trades Council told a local news affiliate that while the Republican-controlled House of Representatives likes to talk about jobs, they’re actually crushing all job-creating potential.
“It’s disappointing that the House wants to compromise jobs and progress for the state. We’ll just have to see where the Senate goes.”
Indeed, in an interview with LaborPress in January former New York ironworker and now president of the 500,000-member California Building and Construction Trades Council, Robbie Hunter, said that efforts by Rep. Jeff Denham to kill high speed rail is bewildering.
“He’s destroying jobs and opportunities for the blighted areas in the Central Valley he represents. It would be like a doctor going against his Hippocratic oath to help the residents in his area. It’s beyond comprehension,” Hunter said.