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November 2, 2010 > High-speed rail awarded $715M

High-speed rail awarded $715M

Submitted By Rachel Wall

The federal government has awarded the California High-Speed Rail Authority $715M creating a total of $4.3 billion of secured funding for the start of construction on the core of the system in 2012, when the project will put thousands of Californians to work.

"This federal funding, at the end of October 2010, has once again invigorated the project and will be a huge boost to the state's economy," said California High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Curt Pringle. "The key to developing this system is to create a core - a backbone for the system that will connect our major metropolitan cities. This funding helps us do that and lets us begin to capitalize on what high-speed rail means for California in jobs and development opportunity and in a more mobile and efficient state."

The first phase of the 800-mile high-speed rail system will span the San Francisco Bay Area to the Los Angeles metropolitan area and will be built in several sections to manage the construction process and gets trains on the tracks as soon as possible. The federal funding received includes a designation that $715M of the funding be used on an eligible section in the Central Valley, earmarking the money for either the Merced-to-Fresno or Fresno-to-Bakersfield sections.

The four sections being considered as the potential launch-point for high-speed rail construction are San Francisco to San Jose, Merced to Fresno, Fresno to Bakersfield and Los Angeles to Anaheim. The Authority is currently in the environmental analysis phase for all sections in the system.

"While we recognize the federal government has indicated a preference by specifying the Central Valley for the bulk of the award, the Authority is committed to using formal criteria in making the selection to decide where to begin building high-speed rail," said California High-Speed Rail Authority Chief Executive Officer Roelof van Ark.

The formal criteria the Authority will consider at its next meeting reflect both the legal requirements in Proposition 1A and federal law, as well as steps to maximize the benefits to the public while minimizing risks. Once finalized, the criteria will be applied to each of the four sections to determine which will launch the project in a way that makes possible the core of a statewide system - the top priority for the initial funding. A selection is expected before the end of the year.

Also included in the latest award was $16M designated for improvements to the 4th and King Street Station in San Francisco, a station in the San Francisco to San Jose segment proposed to serve the existing commuter rail service and high-speed rail.

The $4.3 billion in available funding incorporates the Authority's January 2010 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal funding award matched dollar for dollar with state funds and today's award of $715M matched 30 percent in state funding.

Construction is slated to begin late 2012 with the state's high-speed rail network providing passenger service from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Los Angeles metropolitan area by 2020.

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