April 13, 2012

Calif. high-speed rail budget passed

The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s board passed a 2012 revised business plan that will provide for high-speed rail service within a decade, connect the state’s major metropolitan areas, utilize existing rail infrastructure in northern and southern California, and provide earlier statewide benefits to commuters in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles at a cost of $68.4 billion.

The business plan was adopted with an amendment committing the authority to work with transportation agencies in Orange County to identify cost-effective ways to enable a “one-seat ride” to and from Anaheim, which was originally left out of the revised plan. As part of the amendment, the Southern California Passenger Rail Planning Coalition will consider options for a connection that will cost less and be less intrusive than a full-build connection enabling the one-seat ride to Anaheim.

The board unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Southern California transportation agencies and MPOs. This document outlines a shared commitment to advance the development of high-speed rail while providing funding for local early investment projects in Southern California that will improve rail service immediately. This agreement is designed to set the stage for construction to begin on needed Southern California infrastructure projects as early as next year.

In another unanimous decision, the board also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Northern California transportation entities. This would electrify the popular Caltrain commuter train from San Jose to San Francisco. The MOU, which has been approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, calls for local and regional entities to provide funding for just over half the $1.5 billion agreement. The authority would provide $706 billion from 2008 Prop 1A bond monies.

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