The Biden administration is set to give $3.07 billion in funding to California’s high-speed rail project, which has failed to make substantial progress since it was first funded in 2008.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority will receive funding from appropriations in the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure law, and aims to connect the California cities of Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield, according to a press release from Democratic California Rep. Nancy Pelosi. The project began in 2008 after being appropriated $9 billion from the state and has failed to make significant progress since, having not laid a single mile of track as of May, accordingto CNBC.
“California takes great pride in our ambitious status as the leading edge of high-speed rail in America,” Pelosi said in the release. “With this new $3.07 billion in federal funding, we take an important leap closer to making high-speed rail a reality in California.”
The new grant from the Biden administration will go toward constructing 119 miles of track from Madera to Poplar Avenue, building a rail station in Fresno and completing right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation needed to extend the project to Merced and Bakersfield, according to the press release. The project previously received grants for $2.5 billion and $1 billion from the Obama administration, but 85% of the funding up to this new grant has been given by the state.
The Trump administration announced in 2019 that it was canceling almost $1 billion in federal money for the project after California Governor Gavin Newsom noted that the state was shifting focus away from the project’s construction in the Central Valley, according to NBC News.
The project has been estimated to need between $88 billion and $128 billion to be fully completed, with 9.8 billion having been spent so far, planning to connect Los Angeles with the Central Valley and San Francisco, according to CNBC. The rail authority has previously stated that its goal is to be operational in the Bakersfield-Merced stretch between 2030 and 2033.
The project has spent over $600 million on environmental reviews along the construction path, stalling construction on the project. As of September, 78 miles of the 500-mile-long path from Los Angeles to San Francisco have yet to be environmentally cleared.
The announcement follows another $3 billion investment from the Biden administration in a high-speed rail project connecting Las Vegas with Southern California, out of the $12 billion needed for the project. The goal of the rail is to increase tourism in the region and reduce congestion along the Interstate-15 corridor.
“California is delivering on the first 220-mph, electric high-speed rail project in the nation,” Newsom said in a press release. “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 White House did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation. Newsom’s office deferred to statements made in the press release.
Will Kessler on December 6, 2023