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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

California LAO recommends against funding high-speed rail in upcoming state budget


In a report issued yesterday, the California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) recommended the state Legislature not approve funds that Gov. Jerry Brown has requested to advance the state’s high-speed rail project.

Brown has requested $5.9 billion in the state’s 2012-13 budget — $2.6 billion in state bond funds matched with $3.3 billion in federal funds — to launch construction in the Central Valley. He requested an additional $800 million to improve existing passenger-rail services and $250 million to complete preliminary design work and environmental reviews for various parts of the project.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s revised business plan includes a lower total cost estimate of $68 billion. However, the authority has secured only about $9 billion in voter-approved bond funds and $3.5 billion in federal dollars, according to LAO.

The revised plan also includes changes from the original plan, such as integrating high-speed rail with other passenger-rail systems, constructing the southern portion of the corridor first, and using “cap-and-trade” auction revenue if additional federal funds do not materialize, according to the LAO report.

“We find that CHSRA has not provided sufficient detail and justification to the Legislature regarding its plan to build a high-speed train system,” the report summary states. “Specifically, funding for the project remains highly speculative and important details have not been sorted out.”

LAO does recommend the Legislature provide “some minimal funding” for CHSRA to continue planning efforts that already are under way.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/18/2012