California vote approves high speed funding
USA: Following a highly-charged debate, California’s state legislature voted on July 6 to allocate the funding needed to start construction of the state’s planned high speed line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which is currently costed at $68bn.
The senate voted 21-16 to approve a bill authorising the state to raise $4·5bn by selling bonds as part of the $10bn Proposition 1A package previously backed by voters in 2008. Of the initial $4·5bn tranche, $2·6bn has been allocated to construction of the 210 km pilot section between Madera and Bakersfield in the Central Valley, releasing a further $3·2bn of federal funding already promised under the government’s high speed rail programme.
California High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard welcomed the vote, noting that the federal support could have been lost if the Senate had failed to pass the measure before its summer recess. He emphasised that the remaining $1·9bn would help to modernise the Caltrain and Metrolink networks in northern and southern California connecting with the high speed line.
Governor Jerry Brown said the legislature’s ‘bold action’ would ‘get Californians back to work and put California out in front once again’. Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that 'with highways between California cities congested and airspace at a premium, Californians desperately need an alternative’, adding that ‘no economy can grow faster than its transportation network allows.’
Tenders have already been called for the first of five contracts to build the pilot section, and a groundbreaking ceremony is expected in September.
- Read more about the California high speed rail project in the July 2012 issue of Railway Gazette International, now available to purchase through our new tablet app. Visit www.railwaygazette.com/app for details.