CHSRA Applies For More Federal Funds
In the absence of a long-term federal funding source for HSR funds, we have to take what we can get, when we can get it. In that vein, the CHSRA today announced that they are applying for another $2.3 billion in federal HSR grants. From the press release sent to me via email:
Today’s announcement of the application process for $2.3 billion in additional federal support for high-speed rail projects confirms the President’s commitment to this important transportation infrastructure. The High-Speed Rail Authority and California will compete aggressively for our share of these funds to supplement the federal stimulus funds we have already been awarded and the state funds committed to the project by the people of California. We will continue to move forward with building the nation’s first high-speed rail system because we know it will create jobs, economic opportunity for Californians, and improved mobility for our state.
My understand is that this is money from the FY 2010 budget, achieved through the efforts of the FourBillion.com coalition in 2009. California would be very competitive for a large portion of these funds, especially as the FRA and USDOT are likely to want to concentrate the money to be useful in actually getting some HSR projects done, instead of being spread so thinly that it accomplishes little that is useful.
Some might say that another billion or two from the feds isn’t enough. Overall, it’s not. But all we need is about $1.4 billion or so each year from the feds to fulfill their projected contribution. The rest comes from the private sector, which will be defined broadly. For example, Japan’s public bank is now authorized to make low interest loans to the US for high speed rail projects. Considering that China has shown similar interest in investing in California HSR, this would all seem to indicate that while having Congress fully fund a long-term HSR program, we might be able to cobble together the funding for SF-LA-Anaheim with one-off federal appropriations for the rest of the decade.
Obviously that would be a very inferior solution. But it does indicate that the doom-and-gloom peddled by HSR opponents about the system’s financing is overstated at best.