CA to receive $6 billion federal investment for high-speed rail projects

Zach Fuentes Image
Saturday, December 9, 2023
CA to receive $6B federal investment for high-speed rail projects
California was awarded more than $6 billion for high-speed rail projects, which includes corridor between L.A. and Vegas and L.A. and San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A big boost Friday for California's High-Speed Rail Project. President Joe Biden awarded more than $8 billion for 10 rail projects. Two of those projects are right here in California.

One was a new high-speed rail corridor between L.A. and Vegas.

The other more funding for the high-speed rail that will eventually go from L.A. to San Francisco.

The California High-Speed Rail has been a long talked about project, that for some has generated a lot of excitement.

"People that are living in Fresno could be working in Silicon Valley or Downtown San Francisco," said Doug McCarron, president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

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But after hitting a series of roadblocks, the long-awaited rail line still is not here.

Friday though, those in support of it are cheering after the announcement from President Biden of the billions in funding for passenger rail projects across the country.

Nearly $6.1 billion coming right here to California.

Half to the Brightline West project to connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles and the rest to the High-Speed Rail project that would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco.

"This investment has concrete benefits that will keep us on schedule to open that initial operating line. It could not be done without this investment," said Brian Kelly, California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO.

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The project has seen deadline extensions and cost overruns for years.

And though the new funding keeps it on track, the current deadline is still years away.

"All of this will be completed, will be in initial operating segments in that 2030, 2031 window roughly," Kelly said.

The long project has had an impact on many in the Central Valley.

Like Morgan Doyzaki, owner of Central Fish Company, who has seen some benefits from the project but has ultimately seen his business impacted by the construction.

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"Lots of street closures," he said, "People have had to find different ways to Chinatown, Central Fish."

Even though the new funding comes from the bipartisan infrastructure law, not all lawmakers are excited about it.

In a statement, the vice-chair of the State's Assembly transportation committee, Assembly Member Vince Fong said:

"The High Speed Rail Authority's vision is not based in reality. Completing the High Speed Rail project is still just a far-fetched pipe dream. The state and federal government are dumping billions of dollars into a failed project that will never be completed. Today's funding is a drop in the bucket. As costs continue to spiral out of control, what will Democrats cut from the budget to keep funding this money pit? "We owe it to Californians to truly examine the viability of this project and hold the High Speed Rail Authority accountable for its gross mismanagement and broken promises. The federal government should focus on funding projects that will improve the safety and wellbeing of Americans, like enhancing rural road safety, supply chain, and ports, instead of funding a high speed train to nowhere."

Former California Governor Jerry Brown who led some of the earliest efforts to get the project going spoke Friday about the new funding in a call that included Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.

"Inherent in a big project like this are our difficulties and plenty critics, but the fact that the President with all his experts have felt it appropriate to put up billions of dollars," he said, "That's a big vote of confidence."

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