Californian high-speed rail authority applies for 1.3 billion dollars of federal funding

source: California High-speed rail Authority

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has submitted two applications for federal grant funding totaling nearly 1.3 billion dollars. The applications are the first major push for a continued federal partnership under the newly enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden in November 2021.

“With the state’s continued commitment and the Biden Administration’s leadership and support, we are confident we will deliver a project the country will be proud of,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom in his support letter for the grants. “California is the home of innovation, and we are committed to advancing this very innovative project to improve our economy, advance clean mobility, and expand economic opportunity for all.”

More than 40 letters of support from across California accompanied the Authority’s grant applications, including letters from US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, members of the Legislature, mayors and other elected officials, and statewide and national business, transportation, and labour leaders. Construction of first high-speed railway line in the United States kicked off in 2015, and first operations are expected to start in 2031.

Constructing the first section

The Authority’s two applications seek funding to build a second track for the initial operating segment between Merced and Bakersfield, starting with the two tracks on the first 119 miles currently under construction in the Central Valley. In February 2020, the California High-Speed Rail Authority laid out a “building block” implementation strategy for how to invest currently available state and federal funding. Central to this strategy is to first focus on the  first section of the 171-mile high-speed railway between Merced and Bakersfield and complete it as soon as possible, even as the Authority continues to seek additional funding to advance the full 500-mile system.

The decision to make the first section between Merced and Bakersfield two-track instead of single-track rose up the estimated total costs of the project to 105 billion dollars earlier this year. The next step would be to extend the high-speed railway into the heart of Merced and into downtown Bakersfield, of which the design work should also be further advanced with the federal funds.

Purchase of six train sets

Next to to building the second track, the funding would be used for station development in Fresno and Kings/Tulare, purchasing six fully electric train sets capable of speeds of at least 200 miles per hour and advancing the next phase of design for two segments into the Bay Area from Merced to San Jose and San Jose to San Francisco and into Southern California from Bakersfield to Palmdale and Burbank to Los Angeles.

If the U.S. Department of Transportation awards the grant funding, the opening of the nation’s first electrified high-speed train system comes one step closer. They would also advance design on crucial segments in both Northern and Southern California that cleared the environmental process in the past year.

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Author: Esther Geerts


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