Central Valley to Receive $4.3 Billion for High Speed Rail

Mayor Ashley Swearengin celebrated an announcement today by the California High Speed Rail Authority that the Central Valley will now receive approximately $4.3 billion in funding allocated to support construction of the state’s high speed rail system. Newly issued guidelines require all federal and matching funds allocated to date for the project be spent exclusively on either the Merced to Fresno or Fresno to Bakersfield portion of the project.

The news comes on the heels of last week’s announcement of $715 million in new federal funding for the Central Valley. The total amount of $4.3 billion includes a January 2010 award of $2.25 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), along with matching state funding for both federal allocations.

“Today is a monumental day for the economy of the Central Valley,” Mayor Swearengin said. “The magnitude of this investment will provide tremendous benefits to Fresno and all of our neighboring communities. And, it will secure the Valley’s position as a leader in the development of the next generation of transportation technology for America.”

California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark issued a statement today detailing a letter received Wednesday from Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo. The letter outlines the federal agency’s requirement that all federal funds for the project must be directed to one of the designated Central Valley portions of the project.

The first phase of California’s 800-mile high speed rail line will connect the Bay Area with Los Angeles and Anaheim, traveling through Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield. California has received the largest amount of federal funding awarded to this work in any state.

The legal requirements include meeting the federal deadline of fall 2017 for completing construction and “operational independence” – meaning quantifiable benefits such as improved travel reliability, reduced travel time, or more frequent intercity rail service, even if the overall high-speed rail system is not completed.