Could add thousands of union jobs

By Travis Schlepp of KTLA 5.

A plan to connect California’s two high-speed rail projects via a dedicated corridor in the High Desert is continuing to make progress.

On Monday, members of the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Agency assembled in Palmdale to sign two landmark labor agreements to advance the project.

Officials signed a Community Workforce Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding, two contracts that will ensure the project moves forward with skilled union labor constructing, operating and maintaining the 54-mile transit connector.

The High Desert Corridor will provide a connection between California High-Speed Rail and Brightline West, two electric high-speed rail projects currently under construction. Its eventual completion is considered a crucial step in California’s, and the nation as a whole’s, mission to create a high-speed rail network in the West.

In addition to providing better connectivity between California’s high-speed rail projects, the High Desert Corridor is expected to provide a major economic boost to the Antelope Valley, Victor Valley and beyond.

“Economic forecasters estimate the HDC High Speed Rail Project will generate $12 billion in economic activity for the Antelope Valley and surrounding region,” said Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County supervisor and chair of the HDC JPA.

More than 16 unions are included in the two agreements, which took about a year to develop with support of US High Speed Rail Association, an organization that advocates for high-speed rail projects across the U.S. and helps negotiate agreements between planning agencies and labor unions.

“We were delighted to help facilitate these two landmark labor agreements which will create thousands of good, skilled, union jobs in Southern California,” said Ezra Silk, U.S. High Speed Rail Association’s political director.

The first phase of the project will connect Palmdale in Los Angeles County to Victorville in San Bernardino County with a high-speed intercity rail system. It will then connect to CAHSR and Brightline when the projects reach those cities.

Brightline is tentatively planned to be completed in 2028; California High-Speed Rail could reach Los Angeles County in the 2030s.

“The High Desert Corridor and Palmdale Station are a vital link between Southern, Central and Northern California; and also it will eventually provide a link to Las Vegas on Brightline West. We look forward to working with the High Desert Corridor to develop connections throughout the state of California,” a spokesperson for the California High-Speed Rail Authority told KTLA.

Read the original article here.