California’s High Speed Rail receives $3.1B grant

High Speed Rail crossing over HWY 99 as seen from E. North Ave and S. Cedar Ave in Fresno. (Kenny Goodman)

Funds further construction on Valley portion of 500 mile project and go towards purchase of six electric trains

CENTRAL VALLEY – The state’s high-speed rail project has gained some steam with a substantial multi-billion grant to accelerate its progress.

On Dec. 5, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) announced it had received nearly $3.1 billion in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for the state’s electrified 220-mph high-speed rail system.

“California is delivering on the first 220-mph, electric high-speed rail project in the nation,” said Governor Newsom via announcement. “This show of support from the Biden-Harris Administration is a vote of confidence in today’s vision and comes at a critical turning point, providing the project new momentum.”

The $3.1 billion – which is coming from the DOT Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program – marked the highest amount to date the Authority has received from the government for the project.

“This record federal grant is a welcomed investment in the future of this transformative project. The Authority is humbled by the expression of confidence and commitment from our federal partner,” High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly said via announcement. “We look forward to advancing the project, putting more Californians to work and buying new, electrified high-speed trains, all made possible by this grant.”

In August, the Authority received $20 million from the federal government for the Fresno Depot and station site. Last September, the Authority received another $202 million from the DOT for critical safety and grade separation work. To date, the Authority has received in excess of $3.3 billion in funding for the project.

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High Speed Rail construction and staging area as seen from E. North Ave and S. Cedar Ave in Fresno. (Kenny Goodman)

CENTRAL VALLEY

The money will advance construction on the Central Valley section of the project. According to the Dec. 5 Authority press release, the funding will:

  • Fund six electric trains for testing and use;
  • Fund the design and construction of trainset facilities;
  • Fund the design and construction of the Fresno station;
  • Fund the final design and right-of-way acquisition for the Merced and Bakersfield extensions; and
  • Fund construction in the Central Valley.

For the rail’s progression, ten structures were completed along the first 119 miles of construction in 2023. According to the press release, 422 miles of the 500-mile project have been environmentally cleared. The southernmost 22-mile stretch of construction is nearly complete. The Authority’s next step is to extend the 119 miles to 171 miles, from Merced to Bakersfield.

The project has created more than 12,000 jobs since the start of construction, with 70% of those jobs going to Central Valley residents.

POLITICIANS WEIGH IN

“For decades, I’ve worked to make California’s high-speed rail system a reality,” said Congressman Jim Costa via the announcement. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law I helped (to) pass, we have significant investment to make major progress.”

He added, “I worked to secure the $3.1 billion federal grant to ensure continued economic growth and investments in California’s San Joaquin Valley.”

Also from the announcement, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla said he is proud to champion this “historic federal investment for California High-Speed Rail.”

“California has never been afraid to take on big and bold challenges – including the development of the nation’s first true high-speed rail network,” Padilla said.

For her statements, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the state takes pride in its “ambitious status as the leading edge of high-speed rail in America.”

“With this new $3.07 bill in federal funding, we take an important leap closer to making high-speed rail a reality in California,” she said.

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