April 8, 2011

Calif. high-speed authority offers funds for local station planning

To encourage cities where high-speed rail stations will be located to envision and plan for the benefits that will come along with the new transportation system, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is offering funding to spearhead locally led station-area planning efforts. In this initial round of funding, the Authority has invited seven cities near the initial construction segment to apply: Merced, Fresno, Tulare/Kings, Bakersfield, San Jose, Gilroy and Palmdale.

"It's been proven around the world that high-speed rail stations have the power to transform a city and bring tremendous economic and quality of life benefits," said Roelof van Ark, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "High-speed rail stations will help minimize urban sprawl and serve as important transportation hubs, providing interconnectivity within regions throughout the state. The Authority is committed to working together with cities to realize the potential of high-speed rail; station-area planning is an investment in a city's future that will benefit both the city and the statewide high-speed rail system."

Earlier this year, the Authority's board approved a policy to guide funding agreements for locally initiated high-speed rail station area studies and planning efforts. The policy laid out guiding principles for funding the planning of the half-mile areas around city-centered stations that it will serve.

Local governments will take the lead in designing the station area, considering infill development, transportation connectivity and financing/phasing, while the Authority will partner with the city in an advisory capacity.

The Authority will encourage the design of unique stations that reflect the character of each city and station areas that align with the local area's long-term vision and infrastructure growth plans.

The funds available to each city may be as much as $400,000 to $700,000 from federal stimulus funding and up to $200,000 from state funding. The amount will be based on the cost of each city's planning efforts and available matching funds. Matching funds may include local, private or in-kind.

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