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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Denham bill would stop federal funding for California high-speed rail project

U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) this week unveiled legislation that would suspend federal spending on California's high-speed rail project.

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials planned to introduce the bill this week because the California High-Speed Rail Authority has "failed to secure state and private dollars" for the project, according to a press release issued by Denham's office.

"Continued spending of federal dollars on high-speed rail when the California High-Speed Rail Authority has no viable method of generating state funds puts all federal money for the state of California in jeopardy," said Denham, whose committee held a hearing Wednesday on the project. "The federal government can and would withhold money for other top infrastructure priorities, such as education and water, from the state of California, should the state fail to provide state funds."

Under the grant agreement between the Federal Railroad Administration and the authority, federal spending must be matched by state bonds. To date, the federal government has committed about $3.4 billion for the project, Denham said.

Denham is opposed to the project, which would create a high-speed line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this month included in his proposed state budget a plan to authorize funding for the high-speed rail program by using $300 million of cap and trade revenue.

In June 2013, the authority awarded a design-build contract for the first construction package as part of the high-speed rail project's first phase. A Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons joint venture will construct the 29-mile Madera-to-Fresno segment of the high-speed rail corridor under a $985 million contract. The firms began pre-construction work in August, and utility relocation is under way. To learn more about the project, read this article on

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/17/2014