California files application for high-speed funds

Posted on April 5, 2011

The State of California submitted its application for federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funds, including a request for funding to complete construction of the "backbone" of the planned statewide high-speed rail system.

The federal government recently announced that states can apply for Florida's returned $2.43 billion in high-speed and intercity passenger rail funding. This funding includes $1.63 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding and $800 million in Fiscal Year 2010 Department of Transportation funding. Applications were due on Monday.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority submitted its application for the entirety of the re-allocated funds, including a primary ask for funds to extend initial construction of its statewide system into downtown Merced and to downtown Bakersfield, including both stations and the complicated area of track known as the "Wye," requesting $1.44 billion and offering a 20 percent state match from the Proposition 1A (2008) funding. This application seeks final design and construction funds for civil infrastructure, including track work, and two stations.

This funding would give the Authority the potential to lay the track that will connect Merced to Bakersfield — the critical "backbone" of the statewide system where high-speed trains will travel at 220 miles per hour and ensure that California's system is competitive with other modes of travel. These north and south extensions to the initial construction segment are estimated to cost $1.8 billion.

The application to further high-speed rail construction north from downtown Merced toward the Bay Area seeks $960 million in federal funding for civil infrastructure including track work. This extension is estimated to cost $1.2 billion, part of which would be funded through a 20 percent state match.

The application to further high-speed rail construction south from downtown Bakersfield to the Tehachapi Mountains sees $1.3 billion for civil infrastructure, including track work. This stretch is estimated to cost $1.67 billion, part of which would be funded through a 20 percent state match.

The California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, also submitted its applications for the federal High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program including state and local match funds. Caltrans' federal request for$382 million includes more than 12 rail improvement projects for its Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor passenger rail lines funded and managed by the state and operated by Amtrak.

The projects requested by Caltrans are not currently funded but have been environmentally cleared and, if federal funds are awarded, could begin construction within one year.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority, on behalf of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, also submitted an application for a grade separation project in the City of Los Angeles that would ultimately benefit the high-speed rail system. The application seeks $70 million and proposes a local match from Measure R. The grade separation project is located at the intersection of Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road within the Palmdale to Los Angeles high-speed rail section.

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