Obama announces funding for California high-speed rail project
California will receive more than $2.3 billion in federal economic-stimulus funds, President Barack Obama announced Thursday, with the bulk of the money going toward a statewide high-speed rail line project that will likely begin construction with a stretch from Los Angeles to Anaheim.
“High-speed rail will bring jobs to California when we need them most, building a sustainable and state-of-the-art transit network,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “I am grateful to the Obama administration, Sens. (Barbara) Boxer and (Dianne) Feinstein, and our congressional delegation for leveraging the investment we have made in ourselves to turn the economy around.
“With 14 percent unemployment in L.A., we’re ready to get people to work building the line to Anaheim, and this funding couldn’t have come at a better time,” he said.
California was awarded $2.34 billion — the largest amount of any state in the nation. Of that amount, $2.25 billion will be dedicated for high-speed rail, while the remainder will go toward regional transit projects.
The high-speed rail funding will be used for four segments of the project — Los Angeles to Anaheim; San Jose to San Francisco; Fresno to Merced; and Bakersfield to Fresno.
“This award is fantastic news for California and for our state’s high-speed rail project,” said Curt Pringle, Anaheim mayor and chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “It is an award that will lead to the creation of tens of thousands of quality jobs in the near-term and to continued economic strength and enhance our transportation network in the long term.
“This award will go toward specific projects, but it will benefit every single section of our planned high-speed rail system by moving this entire vision closer to reality — closer to being the first true high-speed rail system in the United States,” he said.
California voters in November 2008 approved Proposition 1A, which authorized $9.95 billion in bond funds to be used toward the project, which is projected to cost $45 billion — although opponents argued the cost would be much higher.
The state had applied for $4.5 billion in federal funds. Obama announced the funding during an appearance in Florida, which received $1.3 billion for its own planned high-speed rail line. About $8 billion in funds were allocated nationwide.
“State leaders fought hard for this investment because it means jobs, jobs, jobs for Californians,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said. “Thanks to our leading high-speed rail plan and the Obama administration’s investment, we will be able to create jobs, stimulate our economy and be home to the first true high-speed rail system to break ground in the nation.
“California’s leaders came together to support and submit one high-speed rail proposal and because of that $2.3 billion will now flow into the California economy,” he said.
The proposed line would stretch 800 miles from Sacramento to San Diego, with a train capable of operating at up to 200 mph in some areas.
Video simulation shows the proposed high-speed rail project. For more information, visit California High Speed Rail Authority.
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