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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Central Valley will be first to receive California high-speed funds


The federal government has weighed in on which segment of California’s 800-mile statewide high-speed rail system should be built first. And the verdict is: the Central Valley.

In a letter sent to California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Chief Executive Officer Roelof van Ark yesterday, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo outlined requirements for spending federal high-speed dollars — including $2.25 billion announced in January through the stimulus bill and $715 million announced last week through the FY2010 transportation appropriations bill, according to a press release issued today by CHSRA. All federal funds must be directed to either the Merced-to-Fresno or Fresno-to-Bakersfield portions of the project, FRA said. The federal dollars will be matched with state funds through Proposition 1A, bringing the total investment to $4.3 billion, according to CHSRA.

The first phase of the statewide project calls for connecting the Bay Area with Los Angeles and Anaheim, traveling through Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield.

Board members are meeting today to consider formal criteria that will help the agency determine exactly which of the segments will receive the initial influx in capital funding. The proposed criteria reflect legal requirements in Proposition 1A and federal law, as well as steps to maximize the benefits to the public while minimizing risks to complete the project. The board is scheduled to select the first project section at its December meeting.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/4/2010