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Obama marks funds for line

Rail would be capable of taking passengers from Anaheim to San Francisco.

January 29, 2010|By Zain Shauk

President Obama boosted local hopes for a high-speed rail line Thursday, announcing $2.25 billion in federal stimulus funds for a project expected to generate tens of thousands of jobs for the region.

The rail line, which is planned to run through Glendale with a stop in Burbank, would shuttle passengers from Anaheim to San Francisco — a distance of 465 miles — in 2 hours and 57 minutes when completed, according to the California High Speed Rail Authority.

The first phase of the $45-billion project is set to be completed by 2020 and would send electric-powered trains at speeds as high as 220 mph moving between major California metropolitan areas, according to the rail authority.

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That could make Burbank — the first stop north of Los Angeles — a destination for some of the between 38 million and 55 million passengers expected to ride the first phase on an annual basis, said William Roberts, director of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at Cal State Northridge.

“I would expect it to bring people in that otherwise wouldn’t come in, and it’ll make it more attractive to work in that area because it’ll make it easy to get to than places where there aren’t stops,” Roberts said.

The project is also expected to bring jobs to the area and throughout California, during planning, construction and operation phases, according to the authority.

More than 600,000 construction-related jobs would be added to build the high-speed system, and an additional 450,000 jobs would be in place once it is completed, according to the authority.

Planners expect 55,000 jobs in the Los Angeles County area related to the rail line over the next 10 years, said Sara Costin, director of Consensus Inc., which is conducting community public outreach for the authority.

But new indirect jobs will also be created in the area as more businesses likely look to position around the line and its stop in Burbank, said Bruce Ackerman, president and chief executive of the Valley Economic Alliance.

Shops and restaurants may also be incorporated into areas surrounding the potential Burbank station, Ackerman said.

The most important local benefit in the near term, however, will be construction, he said.

“If you want to jump-start this economy in Southern California, get people out in construction jobs,” Ackerman said.

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