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The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) and the Federal Railroad Administration yesterday updated an existing 2012 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant to bring it line with the authority's most recent business plan.The grant amendment allows the agency to push back completion of the Central Valley segment from 2018 to 2022. The move is consistent with the authority's recently approved 2016 business plan, CHSRA officials said in a press release.
"Today's amendment marks a significant step toward the delivery of the operable segment connecting the Silicon Valley with the Central Valley, does not delay the project, and will ensure that ARRA funds are expended by the mandated deadline of September 30, 2017," authority officials said.The authority is aiming to have the Silicon Valley-to-Central Valley segment operating by 2024.The amendment also makes several other technical fixes to reflect the 2016 business plan. Other changes include establishing a working capital account for right-of-way to ensure that "sufficient funding is available to maintain the pace of right-of-way acquisition without limitation," authority officials said.Additionally, the amendment includes the purchase of radio spectrum to support train communications and safety measures and increases the amount of ARRA funding that can be expended on project development.Those kinds of changes are common in complex, long-term projects, CHSRA spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley told the Los Angeles Times. U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who's been a vocal critic of the high-speed rail project, said yesterday that President Barack Obama's administration "has just written a blank check and is trying to skirt federal law with so-called stimulus funding.""Every time the voters read the news, the project has changed," Denham said in a statement. "The hard-working American taxpayer has a right to know where their money is being spent and the [Obama] administration has failed to provide oversight of a flawed project."