California gets more money for high-speed rail
California will get another federal grant, this time for $367 million, to extend its high-speed rail route in the Central Valley by another 20 miles and buy next-generation rail cars.
The money is part of a $2 billion grant, including $423 million that newly elected Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida rejected, joining Wisconsin and Ohio in spurning federal funds because of questions about the cost and viability of high-speed rail, a top transportation priority for the Obama administration. California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, requested the additional money for California's big-bet on its rail project.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made the announcment today. Last year LaHood redirected $624 million to California after the Ohio and Wisconsin cancellations. The money comes from the 2009 stimulus and 2010 appropriations.
The rest of the $2 billion in grants will go to the New York-based Northeast Corridor for rail improvements, and to high-speed lines linking Chicago with St. Louis and Detroit. About $336 million will subsidize new locomotives and rail cars for California and the Midwest.
California hopes to have the nation's first rail system that can travel up to 220 mph. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, put out a statement saying San Francisco will have the "Grand Central of the West," in the Transbay Transit Center.
"While other states may ignore the benefits of high-speed rail, California is ready to put investments to work immediately...By investing in our state's infrastructure, we increase mobility options and lower our dependence on foreign oil at a time of rising gas prices, while reducing road congestion and preserving the air...high speed rail holds the promise of smart urban planning, speed and safety, with passengers able to board in downtown San Francisco at the Transbay Transit Center, the 'Grand Central of the West,' and in a mere two-hours and forty minutes disembark in downtown Los Angeles, as established by the voters in state law with Proposition 1A."
An extensive critique published last October by Alain Enthoven, William Grindley and William Warren concluded that the financial projections for the California project "verge on being promotional," and will cost the state dearly by shortchanging more viable investments in education, parks and other transportation.