PHOTO: A rendering of a proposed California High Speed Rail train in California's Central Valley. (photo via Flickr/NC3D)
California is getting ready to lay tracks on the first segment of its much-anticipated California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSR) project, which will eventually connect San Francisco with Los Angeles via high-speed rail.
The finance committee for the State of California has approved a request by the CHSRA to spend $2.6 billion to lay its first track in California’s Central Valley. Specifically, CHSRA will be able to ask the state’s Treasurer’s office to sell some of the $10 million in bonds approved by California voters in 2008.
With funding in place, the rail authority will lay some 29 miles of track in California’s Central Valley, a region that is best known for its agrarian offerings. Officials estimate the project will likely not be completed until at least August 2019.
Eventually, the rail’s first phase will encompass a segment that connects San Jose to Wasco, population 25,000, and creating a high-speed artery through the middle of the state that will eventually work its way to Los Angeles county.
California’s high-speed rail project was approved by voters in 2008 when it was proposed to be a three-way partnership between the state, the federal government and private investments. Federal funding for the project appears to be in jeopardy, however, according to a recent article in the LA Weekly.
Recently, said the article, President Trump decided to delay a $637 million grant that was earmarked for converting an existing San Francisco Bay Area light rail route from diesel to an electric operation. Electrifying the line rail is a necessary component in CHSRA’s plan to introduce high-speed rail in the Bay Area.
The funding was originally thought to be a “lock” and now some are attributing the delay as political retribution by Donald Trump, who earlier this month said California was “in many ways is out of control,” in an interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
While the $637 million makes up a relatively small portion of the $68 billion project, the greater concern is whether the project can expect to see any federal funding at all.
A spokesperson for CHSRA has said the project is not reliant on any future federal funding.