BREAKING NEWS: CA Gets $2.35 Billion Stimulus For HSR and Other Passenger Rail
Note: See updates at the bottom of the post.
Tomorrow is going to be an excellent day for California High Speed Rail. Multiple sources have verified that California will receive $2.35 billion in federal passenger rail stimulus funds. $2.25 billion of that goes directly to high speed rail, the other $100 million goes to other passenger rail projects including some of the Amtrak California routes that Richard Tolmach threw a temper tantrum about back in fall 2009.
Here are the details as I have them – see more in the official White House release, which notes the awardees are both Caltrans AND the CHSRA:
don’t have anything more specific than what is written here
• $2.25 billion for high speed rail funding in the SF-SJ, Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield, and LA-Anaheim corridors, as well as for Phase I planning. There is some debate about whether these are specifically programmed to each corridor, or whether Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and/or the CHSRA will determine the final allocations.
• $99.4 million for other passenger rail projects, including:
Capitol Corridor-South Terminal Station Improvement
Capitol Corridor-YoloXover (Yolo West Crossover)
Capitol Corridor-Track Relocation
Pacific Surfliner -Railroad Crossover Program
Pacific Surfliner – Oceanside Stub Project 1
Pacific Surfliner Corridor-MOW Spurs
Los Angeles to Fullerton Triple Track
Pacific Surfliner Corridor-PE NEPA Ortega
Pacific Surfliner -Corridor Strategic Assessment
Rolling Stock-Locomotive Emissions Upgrade (including San Joaquins)
Rolling Stock-Cab Car Bicycle Storage
There is no specific detail about whether the Transbay Terminal got funded or not. That might be part of the “to be determined” portion of how the money is to be allocated, if the reports are true that the FRA is leaving that decision up to the state.
Still, this is a major victory for the California high speed rail project. $2.25 billion, with $100 million for other passenger rail, is an unprecedented level of federal investment in California rail.
It’s also a repudiation of the “go slow” argument on the Peninsula. Mayors Rich Cline of Menlo Park and Pat Burt of Palo Alto openly derided the value of stimulus, even as unemployed workers explained the desperate need for new jobs. President Obama has rejected this insane approach, and said that instead of going slow, we need to go much faster – at high speed.
Just as the November 2008 approval of Prop 1A by California voters signaled that high speed rail really was going to happen, the infusion of a significant amount of federal money is further proof that despite all the deniers and critics, HSR remains not just popular, but a major element of this country’s economic recovery plans.
It’s also a reminder that, as many of the experienced land use planners and infrastructure builders explained at last week’s Senate hearing, we’re currently at the most difficult part: hashing out the details of where exactly the trains go, and how exactly the tracks will be built. Once dirt is turned and steel put in the ground, all this difficulty will begin to fade.
We still have some way to go on this. And if indeed the Governor gets to decide how the $2.25 billion for HSR is allocated, some of the corridor battles are still yet to be fought. But it gives us another chance to advocate for getting this money out the door as fast as possible to ensure that we start putting people back to work, weaning California off of oil, addressing global warming, and building a 21st century transportation system.
UPDATE 1: The White House has info sheets on what each state received. Some highlights:
$600 million for Pacific Northwest rail, including bypasses (presumably Point Defiance) to help the Amtrak Cascades achieve 150mph service
$4 million for Texas, for grade crossing improvements in Austin and Fort Worth
$17 million for Iowa, for BNSF crossovers
$400 million for Ohio, specifically for the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati corridor.
UPDATE 2: More as the White House posts them:
$485 million for HSR in Northeast Region and $706 million for Amtrak stimulus funding, for a number of different corridors from DC to Maine to Montreal.
Californians For High Speed Rail, a statewide grassroots coalition of high speed rail supporters, welcomed the announcement Tuesday evening from the White House that California will receive $2.25 billion in federal stimulus money for high speed rail.
“This is encouraging news for California’s economic recovery and our future prosperity,” said Brian Stanke, Executive Director of Californians For High Speed Rail. “The federal government has made its down payment on high speed rail here in California. We expect that this will be just the first of many such announcements over the coming decade as we build high speed rail.”
The federal government announced that California will receive $2.25 billion in stimulus funds for work on four segments of the high speed rail project: San Francisco to San Jose, Merced to Fresno, Fresno to Bakersfield, and Los Angeles to Anaheim. In addition, $99.4 million will be spent to upgrade existing passenger rail service along the Capitol Corridor between San Jose and Sacramento and the Pacific Surfliners in between Santa Barbara and San Diego.
“When California voters approved Proposition 1A in November 2008, it made high speed rail a reality,” said Robert Cruickshank, Chairman of Californians For High Speed Rail. “The federal government has rewarded that support with this significant commitment of funds. We need to ensure that these funds get out the door as quickly as possible to get the high speed rail project under construction and meet federal stimulus deadlines. These funds will help create desperately needed jobs across California, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and address the climate crisis while building a sustainable transportation network that saves Californians money. I can’t imagine a better way to get California moving again.”
Building on the momentum of stimulus funding, Californians For High Speed Rail plans to continue lobbying for more federal funding to complete the high speed rail project. “California is eligible for some of the $2.5 billion Congress appropriated last month for high speed rail, and we plan to lobby to convince the Administration to release these funds quickly,” said Mr. Stanke “Congress also needs to ensure that the jobs bill under consideration includes several billion more for high speed rail in the near term. Additionally, we urge California’s Congressional delegation to ensure the next transportation bill is passed this year and that it includes a sustainable, long-term funding source for high speed rail projects.”