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May 27, 2011 > High-speed rail

High-speed rail

Submitted By California high Speed Rail Authority

The past few months have been marked by positive momentum for the California high-speed train project. There have been new funding announcements, major developments in planning and burgeoning partnerships from the federal government to small business owners.

New funding
Strong federal support for California's high-speed rail project continued with the U.S. Department of Transportation's announcement of more than $300M in additional funding, bringing the total federal funding for this true high-speed rail project to more than $3.5 billion. Combined with matching state funds, California now has more than $6.3 billion to invest in the development of its statewide high-speed train project.

The new money was awarded to California to extend the initial Central Valley construction segment north toward Merced, funding the track and civil work from Fresno to the junction which will provide a connection to San Jose and San Francisco to the west and Merced and ultimately Sacramento to the north.

In a letter introducing the state's application for funding, Governor Brown wrote: "California's application seeks funding for projects that will be the building blocks for a statewide network of rail lines linking high-speed and intercity rail lines to regional rail lines. The projects will provide the foundation for a transportation system that will improve mobility, help the environment, reduce energy dependency and put Californians to work."

"President Obama and Vice President Biden's vision for a national rail system will help ensure America is equipped to win the future with the fastest, safest and most efficient transportation network in the world," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "The investments we're making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities."

Moving toward a statewide system
Cities across California will soon be able to look to the California High-Speed Rail Authority for help in planning development around high-speed train stations along the proposed 800-mile route. The Authority Board approved a policy outlining a funding opportunity in which the Authority can enter into local-state funding agreements to provide up to 40 percent of the cost for locally-led station area planning studies, not to exceed $200,000.

The state funding can be used in addition to any federal funding for station area planning such as the $500,000 in federal funding for station design in Merced and Bakersfield and $4.5M total for state area planning in Fresno, Visalia/Kings, Bakersfield, Merced, Palmdale, Gilroy and San Jose.

"Local communities know their own needs, challenges and opportunities and are in the best position to shape development around high-speed rail stations," said Curt Pringle, chairman of the Authority Board.

The Authority released its Urban Design Guidelines, a comprehensive planning guide for cities across the state. The guide provides domestic and international examples of station area design, urban design and transit-oriented development and features diagrams of successful public places that promote livability and transit use.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board recently approved beginning a conceptual study of a possible alignment between Bakersfield and Los Angeles - an alignment that would generally follow Interstate 5, along the route known as the Grapevine - to determine if it may be considered as a feasible additional alternative along with the two Antelope Valley alignments being studied to connect Bakersfield to Los Angeles.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority set aside more than $30M in federal funding for property acquisition and railway development at Los Angeles Union Station, a key terminus for the high-speed rail system. The money was included in a recent grant agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration outlining the use of federal funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"Metro is thrilled to learn of the California High-Speed Rail Authority's intent to invest newly acquired federal funds into Southern California," said L.A County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Don Knabe. "Metro looks forward to working closely with the High-Speed Rail Authority to make the kind of investments that will be beneficial to both agencies as we build a 21st Century transportation network that will give L.A. County travelers a welcome alternative to traffic and rising gas prices."

Growing partnerships
California opened its doors to private companies - small and large, privately and publicly owned, domestic and international, in all relevant fields - to seek their interest in participating in the development of California's high-speed rail system, the largest infrastructure project in the nation.

The High-Speed Rail Authority received approximately 1,100 responses. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom then welcomed attendees to an industry forum in Los Angeles that drew about 1,500 attendees from around the world for an opportunity to hear an in-depth project update and news about next steps. Small and large contractors were able to begin making contact with each other and speak with Authority staff.

In this year's State of the Union address, President Obama shared his vision for a nation united by high-speed rail and specifically cited California's project as an example of great promise and progress.

"The private sector needs to see a strong signal that our federal government is committed to the development of high-speed rail before it will invest significantly - and President Obama's pledge to redouble infrastructure development is the exact sign the private sector needs to have confidence that the United States is in for the long haul to develop high-speed rail here. Californians are already doing their part to invest in and develop a fast, clean and low-cost transportation system here, and we are happy to have the partnership of our federal government and congressional delegation. California is well on its way to beginning construction of our high-speed train system next year, to creating jobs in the near-term and continued economic strength in the long-term," responded California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark.

The Authority is in the process of establishing a policy encouraging participation in project contracts by small businesses and disabled veterans' business enterprises. As it currently reads, the policy calls for minimum contracting goals of 25 percent for small businesses and three percent for disabled veteran-owned businesses, reflecting current practices already being implemented by the Authority.

"Small businesses are the backbone of California's economy, making up 90 percent of all businesses in the state," said Curt Pringle, Chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "We are going to spend more than $40 billion on contracts to construct a statewide high-speed rail system and we need to strongly include small businesses in that equation."

The Authority is also developing an outreach program to encourage the participation of minority - and women-owned businesses in building the state's high-speed train project.

On behalf of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Board Chairman Curt Pringle signed a cooperative agreement with the United Kingdom to exchange high-speed rail planning, design and operations information. The Authority has several partnerships in place with countries around the world that have successfully operated high-speed rail for many years.

The California High Speed Rail Authority encourages attendance at a high-speed rail conference hosted by the Government of Spain on June 3, 2011 in San Francisco. The conference promises an informative discussion about Spain's renowned high-speed rail network, a popular, profitable and competitive system.

California-Spain Conference on High Speed Rail
Friday, June 3
8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Fairmont San Francisco Hotel
950 Mason Street, San Francisco
Register at http://calspainhsr.eventbrite.com

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