California Applies for $4.7 Billion in High-Speed Rail Stimulus Funds

speeding_train.jpgImage: CAHSRA

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today that the state has applied for $4.7 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus money for the California High Speed Rail Authority (CAHSRA) to start the nation’s most ambitious high speed rail project.

In a statement, the governor said, "Recovery Act funding for high-speed rail will go further and create more jobs in California than in any other state in the nation – because we have pledged to match it dollar-for-dollar." Using US DOT job creation numbers, the governor’s office estimates that the full $4.7 billion would create 130,000 jobs throughout the state.  The dollar-for-dollar local match referred to in the statement would come from the $9.95 billion Proposition 1A bond voters approved in last year’s election. Local, state, and national political representatives are rallying throughout the state today to show support for the ARRA request, with a regional event at San Jose’s Diridon station.

According to a CAHSRA fact sheet, the $4.7 billion would be spent accordingly:

  • $980 million for San Francisco to San Jose, including station improvements, grade separations, electrification and safety, and state-of-the-art "positive train control" in an upgraded, shared alignment with Caltrain.
  • $466 million for Merced to Fresno, including right-of-way acquisition, grade-separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, guideway structures and track.
  • $2.18 billion for Los Angeles to Anaheim, including high-speed train facilities at Los Angeles Union Station, Norwalk Station and the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center; right-of-way acquisition, grade-separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, guideway structures, tunneling, and track work.
  • $819.5 million for Fresno to Bakersfield, including right-of-way acquisition, grade-separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, guideway structures, track relocation and new track.
  • $276.5 million for preliminary engineering and environmental work in all system segments including Los Angeles to San Diego via the Inland Empire, Los Angeles to Palmdale and Bakersfield, Sacramento to Merced and the Altamont Rail Corridor.
  • Teko

    This seems like another waste. California already has a railway system in place.
    The problem is that the train fare is too high. If Amtrak was built to be used as mass transit, as opposed to some fancy transit for the few, and lowered it’s fare, it’d be more useful, more people would ride it.

    But as of now it’s just a joke. So why has this joke been running for so long? Well all you have to do is look at the oil interest, and car companies. They’ve been very powerful, and have managed to sell their stuff all along.
    Inefficient bulky cars were okay to sell, until the oil prices quadrupled.

    Anyway Arnold has try to push non-sense for so long, and I’m surprised he’s still employed. Do people really like incompetents?

  • Indeed, the CHSRA grant applications are basically a joke. None of its grant proposals are “shovel-ready”. None of its projects will deliver a final product, other than environmental report. The only reason the CHSRA grants came about at all was result of extreme political pressure from the CHSRA Chair. Caltrans was forced, by the Governor, to pull all of its shovel-ready rail projects (i.e. new rolling stock, expansion of Capital Corridor, etc) because they would be more competitive. Thus, we lose actual rail improvements that might benefit passengers so that CHSRA can spend money on juicy consultant pork.

    Note also that the only truly shovel-ready construction project on the list, San Bruno grade separation, will implement the 2003 pre-HSR plan which is unlikely to be compatible with final HSR implementation. It is designed for rail speed less than the 90mph required by the grant, and less than 125mph needed for HSR. It seems likely that much of that $300 million spent on San Bruno will be wasted.

  • Teko is right on–why not spend this money on triple-tracking Amtrak, getting it to run on time and subsidizing the fare?

  • @ Academic Polemic –

    the federal government will pay for capital projects, in the case of ARRA for upgrading selected existing/new corridors to a top speed of 110mph or more.

    Recurring expenses, i.e. operations and maintenance subsidies for Amtrak California have to be paid by the state of California, which is actually defunding transit to plug a hole in its highway fund.

    Unlike the slow existing services, HSR will generate a fare box return in excess of 100%, i.e. it will cover its recurring expenses. It may well cover interest on the debt as well. What it won’t be able to do is service the principal on the infrastructure cost of the starter line on top of that.

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