California High-Speed Rail Could Benefit From New Federal Funding

If state lawmakers can agree to support matching funds for the project, California's high-speed rail could compete for $36 billion in new federal grants.

November 11, 2021, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

The $36 billion in federal high-speed rail grants passed in the infrastructure bill could help California accelerate its high-speed rail project, writes Roger Rudick. "For some perspective on California’s ability to compete for federal high-speed rail funds: in 2009, California’s project was awarded $3.5 billion from an $8 billion federal high-speed rail package. And that was when the project was still just a bunch of blueprints," Rudick says. 

The project, currently under construction in California's Central Valley, has faced delays and opposition from lawmakers who disagree with the planned route or want the funds spent on improving local transit instead, obstructing state funding needed to match federal grants. According to Rudick,

That’s why the biggest remaining challenge to completing the project is the Democrat majority state legislature. Assemblymembers Anthony Rendon and Laura Friedman, ironically, don’t seem to want the project to ever reach their own constituents in Los Angeles. Currently, they are holding up over $4 billion in voter-approved bond money for the project, which was allocated by Governor Newsom but rejected by these legislators.

Rudick calls for state legislators to support high-speed rail and release the funds needed to move the project forward, commit to electric trains, and compete for a slice of the new federal funding.

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