Saturday, July 07, 2012

California Legislature Approves High Speed Rail

California took a step closer to building the nation's first bullet train.  The bill that was passed by the California legislature authorizes the state to begin selling $4.5 billion in voter-approved bonds that includes $2.6 billion to build an initial 130-mile stretch of the high-speed rail line in the agriculturally rich Central Valley. That allows the state to draw another $3.2 billion in federal funding.  The final cost of the completed project from Los Angeles to San Francisco is projected to be $68 billion.

The first segment of the line will run from Madera to Bakersfield.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is managing the project. California entered a contract that called for the federal government to provide money for building the Central Valley segment if the state also put up its share. California was able to secure more federal aid than expected after Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin turned down money.

The bill authorizes the state to sell nearly half of a $10 billion high-speed rail bond that voters approved four years ago under Proposition 1A. In addition to financing the first segment of high-speed rail, it allocates a total of $1.9 billion in bonds for regional rail improvements in Northern and Southern California.  The upgrades include electrifying Caltrain, a San Jose-San Francisco commuter line, and improving Metrolink commuter lines in Southern California.

The bill heads to Brown for his signature.  (Wash Post, 6/6/2012)

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