May 8, 2009

Calif. high-speed rail board approves ARRA proposal

California high-speed train officials, on Thursday, approved a list of shovel-ready construction projects likely to qualify for $8 billion in federal stimulus funding for high-speed trains.

The nine-member California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Board gave the go-ahead to add the projects to the state's official request for a portion of the high-speed and intercity rail funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) by the expected August 1, 2009 submittal deadline.

"We are confident that California's system is well ahead of every other high-speed train project in the country and should be a leading candidate to receive stimulus funding," said Board Chairman Quentin Kopp. "Ours is the only one with billions of dollars in voter-approved state funding committed to the project, with environmental clearances already in place and with construction elements already identified and ready to go."

The project elements selected by the Board on Thursday are spread throughout California's planned 800-mile system. They include:

  •  The entire Los Angeles-to-Anaheim and San Francisco-to-San Jose corridors, where the Authority is expected to have completed the project level environmental document, and qualified and selected design build teams to begin construction of the sections by the 2012 deadline.
  •   Identification, selection and negotiation of right-of-way acquisition in the Merced-to-Bakersfield section, including the system’s planned maintenance facility.

CHSRA staff also will work before the deadline to identify other “shovel ready” projects outside the three corridors identified above that advance the CHSRA’s high-speed rail plan and that meet the federal criteria, according to its Executive Director Mehdi Morshed.

The CHSRA is responsible for building high-speed train service covering 800 miles at speeds over 220 mph. Voters approved Proposition 1A on the November 2008 ballot.

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