The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced on Friday that it has received a $3.07 billion federal grant to continue the construction of the state’s ambitious rail project. The grant is part of the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program, which aims to support high-speed rail projects outside the Northeast Corridor.
What will the grant be used for?
The authority said it will use the grant to complete the second track along the initial 119-mile segment of the Los Angeles-San Francisco route, as well as to acquire six high-speed train sets for testing and build the Fresno station. The authority also plans to use the grant to finalize the design and start early work on two extensions beyond the initial segment.
The authority’s latest cost estimate for completing the initial segment is $18.3 billion at a 65% confidence level. It has identified $23.5 billion to $25.2 billion in federal and state funds through 2030, not including the new grant request. It also hopes to get $706 million in state cap-and-trade funds if the requested FRA grant comes through.
How does this affect other high-speed rail projects?
The authority’s CEO, Brian Kelly, said he was “thrilled” by the news and thanked President Biden for his “strong support” for high-speed rail in California and across the country.
“The President has shown his vision for a West Coast super-megaregion connected by state-of-the-art high-speed rail,” Kelly said in a statement. “This grant will help us bring that vision closer to reality by advancing our project from Fresno to San Francisco.”
The authority’s project is one of two high-speed rail projects in California that are competing for limited federal dollars. The other one is Brightline West, a proposed line from Las Vegas to Southern California along Interstate 15, which seeks $3.75 billion from Nevada and California.
Both projects have faced criticism and opposition from some local communities, lawmakers, and environmental groups, who argue that they are too costly, risky, or unnecessary.
However, supporters of both projects say they will create jobs, boost economic growth, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve mobility and connectivity for millions of Californians.
The FRA has said it will provide a “streamlined process” for federal reviews of these grant applications. The deadline for submitting applications was Friday at 5 p.m.