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Governor Signs High-Speed Rail Funding Bill

Law unlocks billions in funding for high-speed rail, Caltrain and BART.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the High-Speed Rail funding bill Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco.

The bill, S.B. 1029, unlocks $4.7 billion in funding via the sale of state bonds approved by California voters 2008. The funding will go in part to modernizing Caltrain and other regional transportation systems, and will be matched by a $7.9 billion investment from federal and local dollars.

“This legislation will help put thousands of people in California back to work,” said Governor Brown in a statement Wednesday. “By improving regional transportation systems, we are investing in the future of our state and making California a better place to live and work.”

Brown signed the legislation at Union Station in Los Angeles, and had another ceremonial signing at the site of the new Transbay Terminal in San Francisco Wednesday afternoon. 

Both stations will serve as termini for the high-speed rail line.

The legislation authorizes $700 million in state funding for electrifying Caltrain by 2019, and will be matched with $2 billion in additional federal and local funding. This is on top of funding authorized for building a light rail connection in Southern California linking Metro transit to Union Station.

“I am very pleased the Governor has signed legislation authorizing the first leg of construction for California’s High Speed Rail Project,” said Speaker John A. Pérez. “This ambitious project will create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars for our state, and my colleagues and I have been very pleased to work with the Governor to keep this project moving forward.”

“California’s transit system cannot stagnate because the facts are unforgiving: 20 million additional residents by 2050,” said Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “You can pave farmlands with new roads and blackout skies with airplanes but the air we breathe will be no better than a tailpipe. This project brings an infusion of energy into rural areas of high unemployment and provides relief for urban traffic gridlock. Most importantly, it’s an investment in California’s future.”

The initial segment of high-speed rail will begin construction in 2013 and link Merced to the San Fernando Valley. The California High-Speed Rail Authority and the Governor’s office claim this will create 100,000 job-years of employment in five years, equivalent to 20,000 full-time jobs annually, but those number are disputed by watchdog groups, including Palo Alto’s Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design.

SB 1029 also includes money for replacing train cars on BART and implementing Positive Train Control, an automated system for controlling trains designed to stop collisions.

The total investment in Northern California transportation projects unlocked by SB 1029 totals $3.6 billion, according to the Governor’s office. Southern California will get $2.8 billion, and the Central Valley will get $6 billion.

The legislation also ratchets up the reporting requirements on the High-Speed Rail Authority, a move designed to boost accountability, manage project risks, and keep construction on schedule and within budget.

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Davide Florez July 20, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Quentin Kopp is a retired CA Superior Court Judge and founding California High Speed Rail Authority Board Member, a staunch supporter of HSR, and a Superior Court Judge who has ruled on hundreds of CEQA cases in his tenure. If a Judge is saying that the new HSR plan revealed last week in the CA Senate (Rail Modernization Plan) is "illegal" then it .... is....ILLEGAL. (See: http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/ex-bullet-train-booster-calls-new-plan-mangled-perhaps-illegal-17007 - Kopp Calls New Plan Illegal) Kopp said: “I can’t say it was unnecessary to get the votes, but it’s not high-speed rail,” Kopp, who also is a retired judge, said of the compromise plan. “It violates (the initiative – aka Proposition 1A signed into law after 11/08) in at least four respects and maybe five.” Kopp also said: “It’s not what I fought for” and “It’s a different system, and therein lies legal problems.” The Kings County lawsuit alleges what Kopp has already confirmed: “The Legislature cannot approve a project that violates the law passed by the voters.” So there you have it - a very smart Retired Superior Court Judge says that the CA voters who approved Prop 1A in November 2008 (who authorized only a $33 billion train, not a $68 or $98 billion train as currently estimated) are BEING IGNORED, SCREWED, ILLEGALLY TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF by an out of Control Democrat-Union Regime intent on spending taxpayer money illegally, without voter authorization).
Roderick Llewellyn July 20, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Mr. Florez's comment is incorrect on several fronts. First, that a retired judge, even the author of the original high-speed rail legislation as is Quentin Kopp, says it is "illegal" doesn't make it so. We have something called "due process" in America which means that, while you or Kopp are free to say anything you want, that doesn't make it so. We need a court case to decide on something's illegality, not an off-the-cuff comment from a judge with no more legal standing than Judge Wopner. Second, much of the cost increase from $33 billion to $68 billion was due to an accounting change from original year to expected year of expenditure. Third, the opponents of high-speed rail have become so shrill and strident that one wonders why they are so fanatic about the subject. Fact is, not building HSR will not save us any money, since any alternative to handle expected growth, namely more highways and runways, will cost even more money. You will notice that HSR opponents NEVER propose any realistic alternative. They are big on "no" and "can't do" but lack a single useful idea of their own. Although I am generally not given to conspiracy theories, the level of screaming against this project really only has one explanation: namely, the car, oil, and airline interests are very frightened of this project. Basically, they don't want Americans to have a CHOICE of the train. They want to LIMIT YOUR FREEDOM! And they are paying for "citizens' groups" to shout against it.
Davide Florez July 20, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Roddy, here's the alternative to HSR - it's called fixing "Regional Transportation", you know, something that can actually get people out of their cars along 580/880, and up toward Santa Rosa and 101, and 280/101 on Peninsula. It's such a great idea that HSR proponents actually had to throw in money for "Regional Transportation" fixes like Caltrain in order to get the HSR stinker funded. That's the same extortion Democrats are pulling with the K-12 funding and pointing the trigger cuts squarely at K-12 kids heads. You don't give us taxes, we pull this "triggger cut". Same for HSR: you don't give us HSR funding, you don't get this money for Regional Transportation that you'll always wanted. Also, I don't believe the HSR consultants who are paid much $$ to come up with bogus results that - "if you don't build HSR then you will pay $1 trillion, no how about $500 billion, or how about $250 billion, whatever, we're making this stuff up anyway so let's make it plausible like $180 billion" - yeah, I believe Parsons Brinkerhoff when they estimate how much is costs "not to build HSR." What a crock. These same PB idiots messed up the Boston Big Dig, make it come in 10X over budget and 8 years later than promised. Yeah, I believe them over the State Legislative Analysts Office, and Controller, and Auditor, and Peer Review Committee, and even former HSR Board Member Kopp - yeah, I believe your "paid" consultant more than I believe common sense! You're a HSR tool Roddy.
Jim July 20, 2012 at 11:46 PM
If I voted for it I'm sorry. It's the biggest waste of money. Makes me sorry I voted for Brown.
Tiacuno July 21, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Ignorance. The depression taught that the only to get our it is to build your way out it. We're building a something that will benefit us all. How bout we stop giving money up the half a trillion to Halliburton and other private defense contractors killing people, half way around the world, and start investing that money at home. Neighsayers are usually proponents of think tanks against the best interest of the public. They don't want us to take the high speed train because there will be less of us taking planes and driving our cars. Bad business for the oil industry. Hmm who has a whole bunch of money and looking out for only themselves here.

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