Thank Florida: California high-speed rail secures $300 million in federal money 

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  • AP file photo
  • AP file photo

Florida’s loss has turned in to California’s gain for high-speed rail.

California’s proposal to build a high-speed train system that will connect passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a little over 2½ hours received a boost Monday when the Department of Transportation announced it would allocate $300 million for the project.

That funding was originally intended to benefit Florida’s proposed high-speed rail project. However, Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected the federal government’s $2.4 billion package in February, so the cash went back into circulation for other states to access. In total, California and 14 other states received high-speed rail money initially slated for Florida.

With the latest allocation, the California High Speed Rail Authority has now identified $6.33 billion in available funding for the project — more than any other state — but still way below the project’s estimated $43 billion total price tag.

In 2008, state voters approved Proposition 1A, a $9.95 billion bond measure to pay for high-speed rail. However, funding from that initiative can only be released if it’s matched by the federal government, according to Authority spokeswoman Rachel Wall.

The funding allocated Monday by the federal government will be matched by $75 million in state money provided by the 2008 bond measure. Monday marked the second time that California’s high-speed rail plans benefitted from the rejection of federal money from other states. In December, the Authority received $616 million in federal stimulus funding that was originally allocated to Ohio and Wisconsin.

Construction on the state’s high-speed rail system, which will travel at speeds of 220 mph, will begin next year in the Central Valley. Service to San Francisco could start as early as 2020, although many residents in the Peninsula are fighting proposals to add high-speed rail tracks to their towns and cities.

Funding Breakdown for high-speed rail

$43 billion: Total cost of phase one of project (San Francisco to Los Angeles)

$3.5 billion:
Federal funding secured

$2.83 billion: State funding secured*

$6.33 billion: Total funding secured

$916 million:
Funding secured that was originally intended for other states (Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida)

*California voter passed a $9.95 billion bond measure for high speed rail in 2008. However, funding from that initiative can only be released if its matched by federal sources.

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