California, the state's bid for a federal high-speed rail network with
top speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour is often called the "only true"
bullet train proposal on the table -- and the Obama administration
agreed today, bestowing $2.34 billion on the Golden State to the
delight of lawmakers and rail advocates.
largest share of the state's high-speed rail award, $2.25 billion, will
go towards an Anaheim-to-San Francisco link that is expected to cost
about $42 billion to complete.
Smaller grants were given to improve service on the San
Diego-Los Angeles Surfliner route, the Capitol Corridor route from
Sacramento to the Bay Area, and to give trains new emissions control
The White House grant is less than half the size
of the state's initial $4.7 billion allocation, but the California High
Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has the voter-approved ability to match the federal aid dollar for dollar.
High Speed Rail Association chief Andy Kunz praised the
administration's decision to spread high-speed rail aid out among 13
different corridors, prodding states such as California to "get
creative" and leverage other funding sources.
State are "all
going to scramble, going to build their own money and support systems
to get these things up and running," Kunz said in an interview.
CHSRA chairman Curt Pringle hailed the funding decision, predicting
that "it will benefit every single section of our planned high-speed
rail system by moving this entire vision closer to reality."
case for White House rail money was also strengthened by bipartisan
cooperation between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic
officials in Sacramento. Both sides of the aisle were elated at today's
The governor released a statement touting the upside of the state's shared approach. "California’s
leaders came together to support and submit one high-speed rail proposal and
because of that, $2.3 billion will now flow into the California
economy," Schwarzenegger said.
Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg (D) used the moment to rally
residents around continued investment in rail. "Today
the federal government showed confidence in the promise of this state,"
he said in a statement. "It is
up to us to deliver on that promise."
Meanwhile, Rep. John
Garamendi (D-CA) -- who joined Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) to craft
California's first high-speed rail legislation 20 years ago -- called
the funding announcement "a great first step for a program that I will
continue to fight hard
for in Congress in the months and years ahead."
more funding will undoubtedly be key for California and other states
facing budget crises even as they seek to build out inter-city rail
networks in the coming years. Brian Stanke, executive director of the
grassroots lobbying group Californians for High-Speed Rail, was already
looking ahead to the next steps even as he hailed the state's victory.
From his statement:
California is eligible for some of the $2.5 billion Congress
appropriated last month for high speed rail, and we plan to lobby to
convince the Administration to release these funds quickly. Congress also needs to ensure that the jobs bill under
consideration includes several billion more for high speed rail in the
near term. Additionally, we urge California’s Congressional delegation
to ensure the next transportation bill is passed this year and that it
includes a sustainable, long-term funding source for high speed rail