FRA Gives California HSR Funding Extension
The Federal Railroad Administration delivered some welcome news yesterday:
The California High Speed Rail Authority is heaving a sigh of relief, as the Federal Railroad Administration announced its decision to give the Authority an extension on a $180 million payment.
As part of the grant agreement with the FRA, the Authority initially had until April to secure state matching funds for the California High Speed Rail project. However, with the legal setbacks that have faced the Authority in recent months, including a state court’s decision to deny the Authority’s use of nearly $10 billion in Prop1A bonds, it has remained unclear whether or not the Authority would be capable of making the $180 million payment on time. As a result, the FRA has extended the payment date until July 1.
Jeff Denham predictably whines and complains about this move in the rest of the article, but he has been on a crusade to destroy the project since he arrived in Congress three years ago. His remarks are no surprise.
The FRA’s action helps give California some needed breathing room. There are two possible paths forward here: the state could prevail in its appeal, throwing out Judge Kenny’s ruling and allowing the state to use Prop 1A bonds to provide the required matching funds; or the Legislature approves Governor Jerry Brown’s request to use a portion of the cap-and-trade funds to meet the same requirement. The Legislature must adopt a budget by June 15, so July 1 is a reasonable deadline from the FRA.
Either way, the FRA and the Obama Administration more generally has again been helpful to the California high speed rail project. We couldn’t have come this far without them.