CHSRA Applies For More Federal Funds

Jun 28th, 2010 | Posted by

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.

  1. nobody important
    Jun 28th, 2010 at 17:23
    #1

    Kick ass.

  2. corntrollio
    Jun 28th, 2010 at 17:27
    #2

    Where does this fit in context with this report about FY 2011 appropriations?

    http://laist.com/2010/06/28/congress_cuts_high_speed_rail_fundi.php

    According to this, $2.5B has been appropriated for FY2011. One report has this as a split down the middle by the House approving $4B and the Senate approving $1B.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    This seems like last years appropriation misquoted with the FRA grant?? unless they passed one of those continuing resolution deals in which everything stays the same as the prior year.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    this is also money that needs a percentage match so we may get a very nice amount

    Mike Reply:

    Here’s some details about the funding
    Press release http://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/headline.asp?id=30707
    Notice of Availability http://www.fra.dot.gov/Pages/477.shtml

    It’s $2.1 billion for service development grants, and $245 million for project design/NEPA/construction. All require a 20% non-federal match.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I wonder how much other projects have to put down?? does it have to be new money that needs spent or past funding as the match? We do have 9 billion and nobody is even close to that level of backing

    Alan Figgatt Reply:

    The amounts for FY11 are still in committee, so the $2.5 billion is hardly a sure thing for next year. But they ended up with $2.5 billion for FY10 after the reconciliation process split the difference between $1 billion in the Senate bill and $4 billion in the House. With the “freeze”, the House may well go for $2.5 billion for FY11 while punting putting more serious money into HSR and intercity rail until Congress and the White House take up the next 6 year transportation bill in 2011 (after the mid-term elections). Should be grateful that the FY10 appropriation was $2.5 billion for HSR after the dust settled, not $1 billion.

    But if anyone think CAHSR is going to most of that $2.3 billion, think again. The NEC, Keystone East in PA corridors were shortchanged when the $8 billion was awarded and the Empire corridor & the Washington DC to Raleigh, NC part of the SE HSR corridor did not get much funding. If the NEC is eligible this time around, my guess is that most of the $2.3 billion will be split between 3 regions: CA for the HSR project and some for the current Amtrak CA corridors, one or 2 corridors in the Mid-West Chicago hub system (Chicago to Iowa City seems to be a good bet), and in the East: NEC, Keystone East, the VA DC to Petersburg VA segment, NY Empire corridors may split a fair amount between them. However, the 20% state matching will have a major effect on how aggressively the states pursue these funds and who gets what.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Who outside of CAHSR has a 20% match for 2.3 billion?? is it 400 million at least? the states along the NEC need to start forming a compact like the Midwest if they want more funding as it Amtraks can a semi-goverment agency compete for this money since its 20% would be also Federal funds?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    30 percent match that the Northeastern states already contribute isn’t enough?

    Donk Reply:

    Haha, Pennsylvania can’t find matching funds

    http://www.hsrnews.com/node/110

    I don’t see FL coming up with any matching funds either, they are complete freeloaders. I bet they are going to try to pull the same crap as last time, saying that their highway ROW is a match.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    No, it’s a reference to this year’s budget fight.

  3. Robert
    Jun 28th, 2010 at 17:53
    #3

    How about selling CAHSR bonds to the public. I would certainly buy some.

  4. morris brown
    Jun 28th, 2010 at 23:25
    #4

    In an article just appearing in the Menlo Park Almanac:

    http://www.almanacnews.com/news/show_story.php?id=6924

    Mike Brady, the attorney in the Peterson lawsuit, which was dismissed talks about the case.

    A very interesting point is made, countering an earlier article which clained that the UPRR would not contest CHSRA plans along the SF to SJ segment. This reads:

    ———

    Although one local newspaper reported last week that unnamed UP officials said the company would not try to block construction of the project, a UP spokesman told The Almanac that the company has not changed its previously stated position about running high-speed trains along corridors where the company has a right-of-way.

    That position, spokesman Aaron Hunt said, can be found in part in a letter UP wrote to the rail authority in February 2009, which included the statement that UP’s “permanent easement for freight and Amtrak service (along the corridor) is a valuable property and operational right that must not be impaired by construction and operation” of high-speed rail.
    ———-

    So as the CHSRA and CalTrain continue to pour funds into both program level and project level studies, they still have not secured UPRR permissions.

    On another note, the CalTrain board meets this Thursday. Although expected, certification of their electrification EIR is again not on this agenda.

    Rafael Reply:

    You’re confusing permission with consent. Of course UPRR isn’t going to sacrifice freight rights in the peninsula with nothing to show for it. However, neither Caltrain nor CHSRA is even proposing to constrain or eliminate freight service at this point, even though I and Clem and others have argued that they should. The SF peninsula is simply not a major freight rail corridor.

    As for Amtrak rights, talk about the tail wagging the dog. CHSRA is not going to do anything special just so Amtrak can run its planned once-a-day Coast Daylight out of SF 4th & King instead of Emeryville.

  5. Risenmessiah
    Jun 29th, 2010 at 08:50
    #5

    It’s probably more likely that the Japanese would fund DX with a loan. CAHSR, would build the Palmdale to Los Angeles alignment using federal money. Then, the DX would likely go under without an operator able to sustain loses. So CALPERS could buy it and then lease the track to CAHSR. This gives them operating income without having to run the railroad.

    Then, the Authority would buy the trainsets and start running the route from Los Angeles to Vegas and reinvest some profits into building additional capacity the San Joaquin Valley. Then you would use federal one-offs to build the system up to Merced. Once there, the feds could issue a contract to deliver mail which would add a little more revenue. And lastly, the Authority could even dabble in some freight.

    Then you issue some bonds to connect SF to Merced. (Easier said then done, but still not as hard as when you have no revenue at all.) You lean on Disney to help with the segment to Anaheim, and voila…the first phase is built.

  6. Brandi
    Jul 2nd, 2010 at 22:56
    #6
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