The path to the future took a surprising turn this week when the governor of California cancelled plans to build a high-speed railway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It could be that tensions between the north and the south have become strained and the thought of this trans-state collaboration may have been too difficult to imagine in these troubled times. It could be that the time frame of fourteen years was unrealistic, or the price tag of seventy-seven billion dollars was too steep to pay as the state's traditionally burdened highway overpasses continue to crumble.
Or maybe this is just a pause before the inevitable reveal of molecular transport between San Francisco and anywhere else in the state. Or universe.
That would be a much happier announcement than the one we got, which allowed for a bit of high speed rail to be constructed between Bakersfield and Merced. If you have ever traveled the loneliness of Highway Five in the lower half of the Golden State, you might imagine a way to skip this chunk of the trip. You probably wouldn't want to miss Fresno or Visalia, you can always read about them online as your bullet train flies through the valley. One hundred sixty miles of don't blink or you'll miss it. Really. At a speed of one hundred fifty miles an hour, your in-flight snack will have to be cleaned up at the station because it will be over before you swallow all your Cheez-its.
Which was kind of the idea, since the idea was once upon a time to skip that middle part of the state. But maybe that was just a little too 2008 for Governor Gavin. His suggestion that we focus on this little chunk of the ride was his way of making good on the dream of California High Speed Rail. This is somehow more manageable. I know from my own living room experience laying down track with my son that you can always add to the end of the line if you have enough left over.
But even a governor who once saw a future with marriage equality and legalized pot can't see his way through to spending seventy-seven billion dollars to shorten a six hour trip to three on pre-existing interstate highways. Maybe this is the future we should be imagining. Unless he is eventually going to cede the middle of the state to Disney, and let them put in a monorail from Anaheim to the forests on the moon of Endor.
Or maybe it's just a way to stall that whole state-wide personal jetpack referendum. I can dream, can't I? Even if Gavin can't.