BREAKING NEWS: CA Gets $2.35 Billion Stimulus For HSR and Other Passenger Rail

Jan 27th, 2010 | Posted by

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.

$1.13 billion for Chicago-St. Louis-Kansas City

$800 million for Minneapolis-Milwaukee-Chicago

$244 million for Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago

$620 million for Charlotte-Raleigh-Richmond-DC

UPDATE 2: More as the White House posts them:

$1.25 billion for Florida

$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.

UPDATE 3: Californians For High Speed Rail issued this statement on the stimulus announcement:

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.”

  1. Joey
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 20:42

    Well, that’s good news then. It will be interesting to see how these funds are divided up, and find out more details about the Amtrak California upgrades.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yep, one of the big questions is how these funds get awarded. Originally we were told the FRA would select whole corridors and not do an arbitrary number. Instead they have indeed picked what seems an arbitrary number, at least for the HSR funds, and told California to figure it out.

    I believe that the governor makes the final determination – but that is unconfirmed right now. In any case, the Authority will have a big say in how the funds get allocated.

    elfling Reply:

    Will Amtrak California upgrades mean we’re getting wireless internet any time soon?

  2. Brandi
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 20:43

    Well this is pretty good. It seems as if California got the most of any state which is a good sign. Would’ve loved more for the message it would have sent to other applicants concerning funding and the advantages of true high speed rail. I understand how politics work however. Either way it is pretty good. Here’s to hoping more is to come from the FY 2010 pot.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I am pretty sure we have indeed gotten the most funds out of the $8 billion pot. Given the White House’s decision to spread this around to a lot of states, I think this is a big victory.

    Brandi Reply:

    I agree. It seemed like Obama was also hinting at some more money in a new jobs bill maybe? Or maybe I was really reading into it a bit?

  3. Spokker
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 20:47

    Haha, will it finally be enough to finish the third mainline track between Fullerton and LA? That thing has been under construction for a long time.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just in time to rip it all out for HSR?

  4. Brandon from San Diego
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 20:48

    As I said a few moments ago on the other thread… this can create a split in the state…. with different regions vieing for access to funds.

    As I understand it, the application was submitted by Caltrans…. as a single application… and also on behalf of all stakeholders. As I recall, this process was lightly discussed… and resulted in an MOU between Caltrans and CHSRA. If accurate, are any details readily available from that MOA… because that could clear some things up concerning managment of funds. If some funds go directly to CHSRA.. then we likely have no concern here….. and vetting where funding is to be directed will be entirely up to the CHSRA Board of Directors.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Mmm… if CHSRA does have control over funds… I wonder what the exact wording of the FRA decision was??? If implied that certain segments had more merit…. it would therefore seem CHSRA should direct a larger share of the funding toward that segment…. out of concern for losing any limelight from the Feds. No?

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Mmmm…. and if CHSRA get the funds directly and will be responsible for programming those funds… it would appear San Francisco and TBT would need to go to CHSRA to assist with their tower? NO?

  5. Donk
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 20:59

    Does anyone here know how much matching funding CAHSRA needs before they can start spending the $9B for HSR or the $0.95B for conventional rail from Prop A? Is the $9B in a holding tank until they can raise a certain amount? What about the $0.95B? Just wondering if this $2.25B gets us anwhere close to that amount…

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    50% of construction cost per segment, exclusive of stations (as I recall).

    The $9.95 billion in bond funds is generally being left unspent, as it hasn’t been sold on the bond market quite yet. The $995 million for non-HSR passenger rail is being held back for now as well.

    Dan Reply:

    I think the CHSRA would be well served to use the stimulus funds to draw down as much of the $9.95B as possible. As far as I know, the bond issue is not inflation adjusted …. so every year they delay drawing it down (and using it for construction) its effective value diminishes due to inflation/etc. Additionally, I expect they can get some great construction bids in the current recession.

    Missiondweller Reply:

    Excellent points on bonds being non-inflation adjusted and getting current bids.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Excellent point on the bids – apparently the bids for the Doyle Drive reconstruction project came in far below the engineer’s estimates. Definitely an argument for putting contracts out to bid as soon as is practically possible to maximize the cost savings.

    elfling Reply:

    Our local agencies report getting very very attractive bids from local construction entities on anything going out for bids recently.

  6. Spokker
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 21:03

    Hahaha Texas only got $4 million for Texas Eagle improvements.


  7. political_incorrectness
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 21:08

    Now, with Obama announcing wanting to establish high-speed rail, will it include HSR in the jobs bill? I think we need to advocate for a good portion of job creation through high-speed rail construction.

  8. YesonHSR
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 21:11

    Are we sure they left it up to each state to spend it on any part of there application? hopimg ot does not turn into a dog fight between segments..IF TBT does not get its 400 miilion seperate Newsom and DIFI will go nuke as its ready for construction this summer

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That’s still unclear. No details yet on how the allocation works.

  9. HSRComingSoon
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 21:13

    This is good news. Even though it wasn’t the full amount, it’s a good jumping off point. Now the question is, how is going to be divided? A starting point should look at what local funding is also available to add to the federal and state money to get the biggest bang for the buck in moving the project forward. Additionally, are there regional funds that can also be added to the pot to increase funding that can be used to attract private investment.

  10. Donk
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 21:22

    Looks like Chicago is the big winner. If you go to the site that Spokker linked to, Chicago-StL gets $1.133B, Chicago-Madison gets $823M, Chicago-Detroit gets $244M.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That comes out to about $2.2 billion, roughly equivalent to California, but spread out over 6 states.

    Joey Reply:

    That’s slightly less (2.2 billion) than what CA got.

    Joey Reply:

    Aaaah Robert beat me to it.

    Dan Reply:

    Chicago-Detroit? Are they kidding? I thought everyone had already left Detroit …. I guess they can leave faster now if anyone still lives there when the line’s completed.

    Dan Reply:

    Chicago-Detroit? Are they kidding? I thought everyone had already moved out of Detroit … well, maybe now they can leave faster? Do you need to use eminent domain to acquire abandoned real estate? Are they going to use the old train station (google this if you haven’t seen the pix)

    Joseph E Reply:

    Detroit is the 9th largest metro region in the country; just larger than Houston (!) and barely smaller than DC, as of 2008. Despite what has happened to the city of Detroit (Which still has 1 million inhabitants, despite losing population), the metro area has continued to sprawl.

    Detroit-Chicago is 280 miles, a good distance for 125 mph trains (less than 3 hours at an average speed of 100 mph, accounting for some intermediate stops)

    Dan Reply:

    You are of course correct. Appologies for my previous comment — it was a bit on the rude side…

    AlanB Reply:

    Chicago to Detroit is also the only place outside of the Northeast where Amtrak operates at speeds greater than 90MPH. Right now they have about 97 miles of 95 MPH running, making it the only currently operating high speed corridor outside of the NEC. Assuming that one accepts the definition of high speed for anything that runs over 90 MPH.

    They’re hoping to get that bumped up to 105 MPH later this year.

    Marcus Reply:

    The Metro area still has 4.5 million, even if the City of Detroit itself has less than half the inhabitants it had 60 years ago. Which does a lead to an interesting question: There isn’t exactly any good public transit in the Detroit Metro area. Do the planners expect suburbanites to drive into the city center, park their cars and get on the train?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why would they drive downtown if they can get on in Royal Oak or Dearborn?

    Stephen Karlson Reply:

    The Royal Oak station, such as it is, is in the middle of an active suburban retail and entertainment district. The Dearborn station is near numerous corporate offices, not far from the airport, and has a reasonably-sized parking lot. The current stations are within walking distances of the University of Michigan, a short taxi ride to Western Michigan, and a somewhat longer (if interstate) taxi ride to Notre Dame. The value of a train is often in transporting people between intermediate stops, and some faster trackage through Detroit would be valuable for business travelers headed from the northern suburbs to Battle Creek, and better connectivity and faster service to Chicago would spare a lot of people the ordeal that is changing planes at O’Hare.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Could that be part of the rationale behind the Detroit West Suburban and North Suburban stations in addition to the downtown Detroit station? Its not as if Detroit Metro only has one station allocated in the plan.

    Oh, wait, I bet you are asking the question without first checking out the Michigan brochure.

    Truth be Told Reply:

    What did you expect out of a corrupt Chicago machine politician with a snake for a Chief of Staff?

  11. Donk
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 21:24
  12. YesonHSR
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 21:41

    All in all a great night..almost as good as Nov8 2008 when prop1A passed..Never has a US pres spoke of high speed rail like that in a State of the Union address..

    Missiondweller Reply:

    Didn’t Clinton?

  13. Brandi
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 21:41

    I get a total of $6.165 Billion Dollars from the press releases above. Does that leave $1.835 Billion for Florida? Also are none of these passenger only rail corridors or electric only other than California and Florida? I’m surprised there is nothing at all for the Northeastern part of the country.

  14. Me
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 21:54

    From the notification that I saw, it appears that the following got no money:
    Transbay Terminal, Planning for Phase 2/Altamont

    The four stimulus corridors will be left to fight among themselves to divy up the $2.25.

    Joey Reply:

    Arguably the TBT could be included into SF-SJ.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That’s something that remains quite unclear at this point in time.

    HSRComingSoon Reply:

    If there is no federal money for the TBT project, then the logical thing to do would be to go after the funds slated for the BART-Oakland Airport Connector. That project is basically useless and amounts to about $400 sans the potential $70 million in stimulus. The only thing that needs to be done is to get the MTC to stop that project, which could possibly happen, if BART can’t fix the problems facing the OAC project.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Television news this morning reported that this project was approved. Your union muscle supported it – I guess you can’t always count on your “friends”.

    Peter Reply:

    Wow, surprised it took you so long to weigh in with a stupid comment.

    lyqwyd Reply:

    That’s good to hear. I’d love to see TJPA going to CHSRA with their tails between their legs. Maybe now we can get a proper design for the transbay.

    I still contend that $400 million worth of rail and grade separations is better than $400 million of hole in the ground.

  15. alexjonlin
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 22:08

    Congrats to California! Hopefully you will get even more from that extra few billion for HSR that hasn’t been doled out yet. A correction, unfortunately the Cascades corridor is going for a top speed of only 120mph, not 150… Someday we’ll get something like CAHSR is planning!

  16. YesonHSR
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 22:40

    Me :From the notification that I saw, it appears that the following got no money:Transbay Terminal, Planning for Phase 2/Altamont
    The four stimulus corridors will be left to fight among themselves to divy up the $2.25.

    Joey Reply:January 27th, 2010 at 10:02 pm
    Arguably the TBT could be included into SF-SJ.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:January 27th, 2010 at 10:10 pm
    That’s something that remains quite unclear at this point in time.

    HSRComingSoon Reply:January 27th, 2010 at 10:14 pm
    If there is no federal money for the TBT project, then the logical thing to do would be to go after the funds slated for the BART-Oakland Airport Connector. That project is basically useless and amounts to about $400 sans the potential $70 million in stimulus. The only thing that needs to be done is to get the MTC to stop that project, which could possibly happen, if BART can’t fix the problems facing the OAC project.

    lyqwyd Reply:January 27th, 2010 at 10:31 pm
    That’s good to hear. I’d love to see TJPA going to CHSRA with their tails between their legs. Maybe now we can get a proper design for the transbay.
    I still contend that $400 million worth of rail and grade separations is better than $400 million of hole in the ground.

    The last thing we need ..if hope the Govanator gets to decide then he can take all the heat instead of CAHSR board

    lyqwyd Reply:

    I doubt the governator would give $400 million to the Transbay terminal. He’s been screwing the bay area out of money since he started office. I figure if he decides he’ll send the money to LA or to the central valley.

  17. Donk
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 22:42

    What I find entertaining is that after all the hubub made on Fox News and other places when Harry Reid was perceived as cooking this $8B to get his “boondoggle from Sin City to Disneyland” built, it appears that not a cent is going to Nevada.

    I don’t think any funding was expected to go to Nevada anyway, but can somebody please tell all those baffoons “I told you so”. I vividly remember how that move by Obama/Biden to redirect $8B funding was criticized by so many people, such as Bobby Jindal, that it got the whole country into a frenzy talking about what a boondoggle high speed rail was and how it was pork going directly into Harry Reid’s pocket. Maybe they can give Louisana some money so they can stuff it in Bobby Jindal’s mouth.

    I wonder how tomorrow’s announcement will be perceived by the media…

    HSRforCali Reply:

    Now will be an important time and great opportunity to build up a large amount of support for this project.

  18. Matthew F.
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 22:50

    I’m curious how much this will speed up a run on the Pacific Surfliner? If it were able to reach 110 between San Diego and LA (maybe for an express, at least), that would be a very viable connector to Union Station until HSR is extended here.

  19. adirondacker12800
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 22:50

    Link to the Northeast is broken. It should be

    And lots of loud rude noises. I’m sure the people in Bennington are thrilled the Ethan Allen will be rerouted through Bennington but that means I lose half the trains – one of the two – that go through here everyday. . . oh well parking is cheap in the far lot in Renssalaer

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Thanks, fixed.

    matt Reply:

    actually a lot of links are broken…The White House is messing with your head Robert.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It wasn’t and then it was and then it wasn’t and the Florida link went kerfluey. That’s what they get for having the interns work until 2 in the morning. At the moment they seem to be working.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The fault was mine for not properly closing the tag on the Florida link. Busy night and all that.

    Joey Reply:

    Some of the links ON the White House’s press page were broken at least briefly…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes, and the page for Florida, at this moment any, is titled Eugene-Tampa-Orlando-Miami. Imagine building a railroad from Oregon to Florida for a few billion…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Lots of trains running out of Eugene — the Chicago / Michigan train seems to be based in Eugene as well – though the map stops at Chicago, so it seems they will deadhead to/from Eugene.


    wu ming Reply:

    chicago: the eugene of the midwest.

    elfling Reply:

    Hey, if they build HSR from Eugene to Orlando, I promise to ride it. :-)

    Marcus Reply:

    I’m glad their fixing the track in Western Mass. The “Palmer backup” was one of the more ridiculous maneuvers in our passenger railway system. (Basically the Vermonter had to go many miles out of its way into a dead end and switch directions, adding nearly an hour to the trip and bypassing many cities.) I just hope they schedule the rail service so that it’s convenient to transfer at Springfield if you’re coming from Boston. (Former Californian living in Massachusetts now)

    AlanB Reply:

    Actually the White House page contradicts itself. Initially they state that they are extending from Rutland north to Burlington. Then in the details section they suddenly switch to Bennington to Rutland. Sounds like someone didn’t look at a map, or maybe two different people were working on the announcement.

    All other reports that I’ve seen indicate that you won’t loose that second train Adirondacker, as the primary goal right now is to get to Burlington. Even the accompanying map shows the current Whitehall, NY to Rutland Ethan Allen, that then turns north to Burlington.

  20. Dave
    Jan 27th, 2010 at 23:34

    Have you guys seen this:

    elfling Reply:

    Palo Alto has no better use for $130k? I’m glad to hear they’re doing so well in this economy.

    Peter Reply:

    Maybe the State should just take more of their funds. That way they won’t have the money to do so.

  21. Joseph E
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 00:28

    This is a clear victory for California. Considering that the funds were spread over so many states, California really stands out as the largest by far. There were requests for 50 billion worth of projects, only 8 billion of which were funded, but CA gets fully half of what we asked for. 3 billion would have been nice, but that would have been over 1/3 of the entire amount, while California only has 1/10th of the population, and none of the swing voters.

    I hope we can sell a couple billion in state bonds to match the funds, and get some track laid in the Central Valley and LA to OC at least in the next couple of years, while construction costs are cheap.

    Let’s continue campaigning for more funding with the second stimulus. We need to get as much contracted and built as possible while the economy is slow, before the price of steel, concrete and oil shoots up again with the end of the global recession.

  22. Joseph E
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 00:36

    I had heard that the Governor had blocked stimulus funding requests for the current Cal Amtrak corridors, but this document ( shows funding for the San Joaquin, Pacific Surfliner, and Capital Corridor routes, including upgrades to allow 110 mph operation (presumably through the Marine base) on the Pacific Surfliner.

    Better reliability and higher average speeds for the “standard-speed” trains will be a great improvement. If the Pacific Surfliner could average just 60 mph between LAUS and San Diego, the trip time could be cut to 2 hours, quite competitive with driving even on a weekend without traffic, and faster than a short-haul flight. Currently, trains take almost 3 hours to make the trip, usually slower than driving even with traffic, but upgrades between LA and OC, and 110 mph speeds in the rural areas, could make up that time.

  23. jimsf
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 00:56

    Well I am please with the results. It sounds like they used a great deal of common sense in doling out the various amounts to the corridors. I’mg glad of course, to see funding for many of these amtrak corridors for needed infrastructure improvements, and speed up grades, and of course the total for california is nice big chunk of investment for existing amtrak and to get high speed rail going. This should put to rest those who are thinking in terms of ridiculous “lets have another vote” notions. I would like a final answer on the 400 million for tbt as they are going to proceed with construction on sked and that train box or train box needs to be determined. If they don’t put the train box in first, CHSRA is going to be on the hook to figure how to put it in later with other money ( as this money will be long gone by then) and they won’t be on the hook for just a train box, but either a train box under an existing development, or trying to figure out how to pay for land/location and a full blown free standing train station which is going to cost a lot more than a train box.

    Im glad that the chicago hub projects were nicely funded. They deserve it. Chicago has been the nations railroad hub since forever. I remember being up in the sears tower around rush hour, and seeing trains snaking in and out of town in all direction. pretty cool.
    Those folks are well established railroad people, workers and passengers and better them than texas, ( yuk blech eww pituey…) And yay for cascades upgrades too.

    A good night over all.

  24. Matthew F.
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 00:56

    OC register: “Feds fund O.C. to LA fast train” –

    Honestly, how narrow-minded does the OC Register have to be, to think of the entire California High Speed Rail project as “O.C. to LA Fast Train”.

    mrcawfee Reply:

    they also failed basic math by rounding 2.3 billion up to 3 billion.

  25. jimsf
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 01:59

    again with the comment… unbelievable look at the reaction. and thats the sf paper…. somethings not right. I know these people don’t live here are anywhere within 1000 miles of here.

    Peter Reply:

    You mean like the guy who said he was living in China?

  26. Andrew
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 02:46

    Good news! I am really anxious now to see some track laid.

    Get to work on Merced-Bakersfield, guys!

  27. Rafael
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 04:59

    Looks like the Obama administration is counting on Congress to grow the HSR funding pie rather than push for at least one corridor to get up and running. By and large, that’s good politics in that everyone knew beforehand that $8 billion wasn’t going to be anywhere near enough to get California HSR built, never mind any of the other corridors.

    Unfortunately, Congress is now so dysfunctional it’s unclear if there’s enough critical mass to cut other spending to create fiscal leeway for funding HSR projects properly. Eliminating or simply ignoring US Senate rules on filibusters, holds etc. would be a great start, but no more than that. The House and Senate really need to migrate to four-year terms that are synchronized with the presidency, otherwise the frequency and staggering cost of political campaigns will render the nation all but ungovernable soon enough.

    In terms of transportation spending, pitting road and rail projects against one another in terms of ROW acquisition and funding may well make sense in some situations. Overall, though, Congress simply needs to get back to basics and fully fund carefully selected infrastructure programs to begin with. This is considered one of the core functions of government in every other developed country, with revenue going into and investments coming out of their general funds. They understand that investments in transportation and other infrastructure are the foundation for private investment in real estate and many other types of civilian economic activity.

    Sadly, US voters have allowed their federal politicians to instead expand military and homeland security spending to unsustainable levels, much of it on programs that are grossly ineffective. This generates a steady stream of campaign finance contributions but F-22s and full body scanners do essentially nothing to help businesses and consumers trade more and more efficiently.

    Andrew Reply:

    Agreed. When I read the words “non-defense spending freeze,” I just sighed and shook my head. If it’s not screwing up life for people in foreign countries, then it isn’t worth the federal government spending money on, is it?

  28. Observer
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:24

    Congratulations on recieving 5% of the funding needed for the California high speed rail line. Along with CHSRA borrowing capability under AB3034, that brings you up to 26% funding.

    (Putting this into some perspective – if you were buying a $300,000 home, your great aunt gives you 5% down or $15,000. Bank willing to lend only 21% (9/42), or about $64K. You now have 75K of the $300,000 needed to buy the house. Your sensible approach at this poit, having exhausted your ability toborrow, you plan to start knocking down walls for a remodel, while waiting til next year, when great aunt might come through with another 2% or $6000 ??!…

    Its no wonder so many californians are bankrupt.

    Rather brilliant of the Obama administration to appear to give 2.5, while tying it up in the California political process to figure out how to split it up. Obama probably realizes that this will be 2.5 he can take credit for awarding, but that will never be spent.

    As for AB3034 requirements:
    AB3034 is set up in such a way that in order to USE AB3034 the CHSRA will have to plan and build a usable segment in full, including at least 2 stations, and everything in between, (trainsets, security, signaling, and all), resulting in an operational, revenue generating, profitable in its own right, 100% funded SEGMENT.

    Wise thing now would be to figure out which usable segment can be built in full with 11B, can go operational and profitable in its own right, indefinitely. Fresno to ?, Bakersfield to LA? LA to Anaheim? TBT to Millbrae (hahaha), Mt. View to SJ (hahaha again).

    D) The sources of ALL FUNDS to be invested in the corridor, or
    usable segment thereof, and the anticipated time of receipt of those
    funds based on expected commitments, authorizations, agreements,
    allocations, or other means.
    (E) The projected ridership and operating revenue estimate based
    on projected high-speed passenger train operations ON THE CORRIDOR OR USABLE SEGEMENT (F) All known or foreseeable risks associated with the
    construction and operation of high-speed passenger train service
    along the corridor or usable segment thereof and the process and
    actions the authority will undertake to manage those risks.
    (G) Construction of the corridor or usable segment thereof can be
    completed as proposed in the plan.
    (H) The CORRIDOR OR USABLE SEGMENT thereof would be SUITABLE AND READY for high-speed train operation.
    (I) One or more passenger service providers CAN BEGIN USING the
    tracks or stations for passenger train service.
    (J) The planned passenger service by the authority IN THE CORRIDOR OR SUABLE SEGMENT
    thereof will not require a local, state, or federal operating subsidy.

    BTW, is the Obama administration allowing American Reinvesement and Recovery Act dollars to be used on siezing peoples homes? That would be ironic eh? I wonder if they’ll be putting those “Your ARRA Tax Dollars At Work” signs in those neighborhoods?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Ridiculous – Obama has made clear that this is very much a downpayment on an ongoing federal commitment. Yes, we need more, but this is a start. It would have been great if we got all $15-$17 billion or so from the feds up front, but that was never likely. Instead we’re going to continue pushing Congress to create a major, long-term funding source for HSR projects across the country.

    lyqwyd Reply:

    Actually this puts us above 25% of total funding required.

    ~$42 B * 25% = $10.5 B

    $9 billion (prop 1A) + $2.25 billion = $11.25

    Your delusional fantasies do not reflect reality.

  29. Observer
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:51

    Woops I painted an overly rosey picture. Actually AB3034 funding is limited to 50% (must be matched by other sources), so this 2.5 frees up 2.5 of AB3034 funds only. So in order to get as much ab3034 out of this as possible, they’d need to find a fully usable segment, ready for operation, revenue generating and profitable in its own right – for $5B (which of course would eliminate ability of using that 2.5 ARRA on bits and pieces elsewhere)

    Robert – Obama’s administration isn’t exactly looking flush with power these days. I don’t think its all that far fetched to presume that this $8B is the biggest flush of investment dollars that will be seen for quite some time to come (Obama himself pointed to spending freezes after this year). Republicans are taking more seats, dividing priorities even more; gridlock in washington seems to be the battle cry. (Not to mention that California’s disfunctionality will shortly do its own number on these ARRA funds…) My prediction is that we’ll shortly see politics within the CHSRA, we’ll start to see them knawing their own limbs.

    I don’t see it looking at all likely that California can expect the THREE BILLION PER YEAR that was in the business plan. It looks highly unlikely that anything even close to that will be likely.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Many Republicans support HSR funding. It is by no means certain that everything dries up if Dems lose Congress. However, there’s no reason to run that risk, so Congress should pass a big HSR funding package as part of the transportation bill before 2010 is over.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That could very well change if more conservative Republicans oust incumbents at the primary level. My take is that the November elections will be a disaster for the Democrats, especially if the unpopular “Öbamacare” is rammed thru. The Repubs will coast on a repeal platform. That’s why I don’t think it will be supported by the centrists who want to keep their personal legislative cadillac heatlh plan.

    Closer to home, it will tell all whether the $400mil for the TBT box will be pulled and earmarked from the stimulus slush. Otherwise crank up your ulterior motives and conspiracy theories because without that sum forthcoming there will be no TBT station or TBT tunnel. The downtown station has always had its detractors and in the face of the enormous costs of building after the fact all it takes is a tame judiciary to annul that Prop 1A proviso.

    Peter Reply:

    And in what way has your “take” on anything whatsoever EVER been correct? You just froth at the mouth and fling conspiracy theories. Go back to your rat hole.

  30. Donk
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 09:16

    I just noticed something interesting – if you superimpose the 2008 Election Blue State/Red State map ( with the map of ARRA-funded corridors ( you get an almost perfect match between Blue States and funded corrirdors.

    As far as I can tell the only funds going to Red States are the measly $4M to TX and the dotted line going thru MO, which isn’t really funded (the funds go towards the Chicago-StL line).

    This decision was likely due to both political reasons and becasue Red States in general are not as supportive or rail projects. Can’t wait to hear this firestorm on Fox News.

    Spokker Reply:

    Red states would are also likely to have less promising corridors than blue states.

    Look at the top ten Republican states here and tell me which ones have promising HSR corridors.

    Texas has the most promising, but they didn’t have their shit together.

    Peter Reply:

    Did the Atlanta-Chattanooga maglev project ask for any money?

  31. TomW
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 10:08

    The question is: how much can be built for $11bn? ($9 from prop 1A and $2bn from feds)

  32. Spokker
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 10:14

    So did maglev get any money? Was Bobby Jindal wrong this whole time?

  33. jimsf
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 10:30

    obamas on now….. about hsr

  34. Observer
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:01

    TomW. As mentioned above, its really not 11B available. Prop 1A requires 1 for 1 matching for any prop 1A funds used, so this 2.2 only frees up 2.2 in Prop 1A -IF- all is used on one complete usable profitable segment.

    So the question is, if they want to use this Fed $ to tap in to Prop1A at all, can they find a complete segment to build for 4.4 Bil

    (sorry again, I had been assuming the fed grant was 2.5, but its only 2.2. So its not 5B when matched, but rather 4.4B)

    jimsf Reply:

    So observer, what is your idea here, to just keep peeing in wind till you hit a target? You can argue round and round about detail, but cleary, the project is going to get built. The public, state, and feds, support it, and things are moving forward. Those in charge are well aware of the rules and no one is in a panic.

  35. Peter
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:01

    May not seem directly related to HSR, but:

    The Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas is coming to the Bay Area. Including a stop at Gunn High School, where they will be protesting the spate of suicides… Not sure what about them they will be protesting…

    jimsf Reply:


    Spokker Reply:

    The Bay Area’s openness to homosexuality is causing the teenagers to jump in front of trains.

    Or maybe trains are gay.

    jimsf Reply:

    Only high speed trains are gay cuz they are from europe. Regular red blooded american trains are ok.

  36. jimsf
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:06

    These girls on msnbc are dumb as dirt. They are calling it Light Rail, and then guy is like, its only enough to buy a couple of trains and lay some track but its not gonna create any long term jobs. Then went on blathering about amtrak. This is what passes for reporting on a presidents speech? msnbc, please get rid of the morning stupid giggle girls and put rachel on instead.

    Spokker Reply:

    They need their own set of dumb people to compete with Fox New’s dumb people.

    Maddow has said some untrue things too:

    jimsf Reply:

    well I can forgive her cuz i just luv her.

    jimsf Reply:

    but these two broads who are on in the morning I can’t stand.

    Spokker Reply:

    She doesn’t swing that way, jim.

    jimsf Reply:

    I know, that’s why I luv her.

  37. Spokker
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:14

    Hahahaha, the train… hah… get this, is eating all the money! Hahahahahaha.

    It’s got these big teeth, and the money, haha, is laying there on the tracks, and it just eats all the money! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

    jimsf Reply:

    lol me like funny picture.

    Jathnael Taylor Reply:

    Om nom nom nom nom nom nom

    lyqwyd Reply:

    good find Spokker, made me snort!

  38. jimsf
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:22

    So, for now ObamaRail, looks like this

  39. jimsf
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:32

    OMG GOD SHES CALLING IT LIGHT RAIL AGAIN some one stick a pencil in my eye now please. Is there no one in the studio that can whisper in her earpiece ?

  40. jimsf
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:35

    Unbelievable. and these are the people we count on to maintain a well informed electorate. No wonder. No freakin wonder.

  41. Spokker
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:35

    Haha, okay, so check this out. In the 1950s we started this whole massive network of interstate highways. 90% of the costs associated with these highways was paid for by the feds, with a 10% match to states. You hearing me?

    Alright, so we build these highways and they connect the suburbs to jobs, and we pretty much steamroll them through poor, black neighborhoods. You know, totally saying “fuck you” to the urban core and all that. These insane drivers didn’t give a shit! We couldn’t believe it!

    Then, in order to secure the fuel to power all these fuckin’ cars these jerkoffs are driving, we send young men overseas to protect those resources at a cost of billions. The goddamn military budget is out of control and people’s sons are dyin’ but these fuckers want to keep on drivin’! Even I was surprised!

    But here’s the kicker, at the end of the day, these dumb assholes think highways and roads are paid for by a federal excise tax that hasn’t been raised since 1993! Hahahahahaha, oh my Lord! And then they turn around and condemn alternative forms of transportation, such as bus and rail, for not covering their costs! Hahahahahahahahahaha it’s the greatest thing!

  42. BW
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 12:08

    Where is CA. going to get the money to pay the debt interest on the bonds they may float for matching funds? I don’t imagine Muncipal investors will take to kindly to receiving IOU’s for their coupon payment (as CA likes to do with it’s employees).

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    1. Debt payments are constitutionally required to be the first use of budget funds, above all others. CA cannot legally default, and therefore will not do so. CA is being cautious about selling bonds right now, but when it has done so in 2009, it was able to sell its offering without a problem.

    2. Over time, as economic growth returns, and in fact is fueled by HSR spending, it becomes easier to pay off the bond debt. We have more tax revenue and more economic activity to fund it and other programs.

    3. California’s fiscal problems are partly the fault of the severe recession, partly the fault of having taxes too low. Whether we build HSR or not doesn’t change those facts. We’re in a crisis even if we do nothing. However, as we saw in the Depression, major infrastructure projects funded by bond debt – like the Golden Gate Bridge, like Shasta Dam – can help aid economic recovery and help close budget deficits through the activity and tax revenue they generate.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “2. Over time, as economic growth returns, and in fact is fueled by HSR spending, it becomes easier to pay off the bond debt. We have more tax revenue and more economic activity to fund it and other programs.”

    … note that this self-funding aspect is much stronger at an 80:20 match than at a 50:50 match.

    This is why, even if the outcome at Transbay ends up less than ideal, in financial terms only being on the hook for $1.85b under the reckless offer of a 50:50 match is likely better for CA in the long term. $1.85b at 50:50 and $7b at 20:80 would be a total of around $38.7b.

    jimsf Reply:

    aka economic growth.

  43. BW
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 12:53

    From the LAO

    “Our forecast of California’s General Fund revenues and expenditures shows that the state must address a General Fund budget problem of $20.7 billion between now and the time the Legislature enacts a 2010–11 state budget plan. The budget problem consists of a $6.3 billion projected deficit for 2009–10 and a $14.4 billion gap between projected revenues and spending in 2010–11. Addressing this large shortfall will require painful choices—on top of the difficult choices the Legislature made earlier this year.

    “CalSTRS underfunded by $42.6 billion. CalSTRS’ investment losses have left the system underfunded by $42.6 billion, with almost double the unfunded liabilities it had estimated 19 months ago”

    “CALPRS unfunded liability to top $118 billion”.–A4avOA/s1600/Shortfall+for+forseeable+future.jpg

    There was an awful lot of growth in those years.

    BW Reply:

    That is an old projected chart. The reality is much worse.

    “Debt payments are constitutionally required to be the first use of budget funds, above all others. CA cannot legally default, and therefore will not do so”.

    Counties all over the country are defaulting on debt. Don’t believe for a second it can’t happen here.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Counties are not states. California is legally barred from default.

    California has big budget problems, no doubt about it. And how do we solve it? In part by growing the economy. Your solution is to just do nothing to promote future growth and hope it magically resolves itself.

  44. BW
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 13:07

    I realize thats an old projected chart. The reality is much worse.

    “Debt payments are constitutionally required to be the first use of budget funds, above all others. CA cannot legally default, and therefore will not do so”

    Counties are defaulting on debt all over the country don’t believe for a second it can’t happen hear.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Counties are defaulting on debt all over the country

    Really, which ones? Only thing I can find is that Jefferson County Alabama may be in trouble over it’s sewer district bonds and then stuff that’s 15 years old about Orange County California.

    BW Reply:—the-chart-of-the-day-shows-the-number-of-bond-issue.html

    “On the Brink

    In 2009, more municipal bonds defaulted than in any year since 1992: 183 issues totaling $6.3 billion drew down reserves or failed to pay debt service, according to the Distressed Debt Securities newsletter in Miami Lakes, Florida. The dollar amount was the second-largest in the past 30 years, behind $8.2 billion in 2008.
    Analysts expect 2010 and 2011 to be worse” (sorry dont have the link for this one)

    While its true defaults have slowed in the last 6 months alot of liabilities will need to be refunded. If interest rates go up even 1% this will be the tipping point for many municipalities,

  45. BW
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 13:14

    Sorry for the double post.

    My solution is to cut spending and hold states accountable to living within their means, when it’s proven they can do that than maybe we can consider growth at any cost.

    Peter Reply:

    We need to also overturn Prop 13 and set it up so that a simple majority in the legislature can pass a budget.

    Then the state could actually have a budget and have the tax revenues it needs to fund its financial needs.

    lyqwyd Reply:

    BW, are you spending at least an equal amount of time opposing highway spending?

    Spokker Reply:

    BW, many people talk the talk, but when the federal spending that they benefit from is taken away they start bitching.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Excellent Hoover economics. Cut spending to force people to live within their means, when income drops as the result of the decline in economic activity cut spending again to force people to live within their means, when income drops as the result of the decline in economic activity cut spending again to force people to live within their means, and keep repeating until it works.

    And, and since banks will be put under pressure as people start going bankrupt, be sure to bail out the banks. Can’t have them hurt by the side-effect of forcing people to live on ever falling incomes.

    Dan S. Reply:

    Strongly disagree BW. The responsibility of the “state” (be it the federal state or the local one) in my mind is to provide services and protect us from the predictable cyclic machinations of the free market. This requires, I believe, deficit spending in times of contraction to stimulate the economy. Defecit spending allows us to borrow money to create jobs, which gets the economy going again, and resulting future tax revenues have no problem paying back the interest on that type of stimulative investment.

    Budgeting rules of thumb that work well for a family-sized unit do not necessarily scale up to meet the needs of a community of millions.

    If you force the state to tighten its belt just as a faltering economy reduces its tax revenues, you are adding positive re-enforcement to the economic downturn. In today’s crazy world, that might not be bad politics, but it’s terribly destructive economics.

    And shame on Obama for pandering with a freeze.

  46. Joe
    Jan 28th, 2010 at 19:17

    I am a land surveyor. What links are available where I can “follow the money” on what engineering/surveying firms are going to bid on work for the Calif. high speed sections?

Comments are closed.