Calif. Lawmakers Proposed Diverting High-Speed Funds

Some California legislators are talking about diverting funding from the Central Valley high-speed rail project and spending it instead on rail and transit projects in northern and southern California.

Their proposal, which has yet to be defined, would delay electrification of the Central Valley segment of the network and instead operate it with diesel locomotive power.

That would free $4 billion to $6 billion that could be used for commuter rail service elsewhere.

“The concept is intended to maximize shorter-term benefits using the limited high-speed rail funds available, without sacrificing the long-term goals of a high-speed rail system in the state,” said California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

Rendeon described the idea as a way to save high-speed rail and not an effort to end it.

In response, the California High-Speed Rail Authority said it doesn’t need to be one or the other because hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to improve existing rail systems in the Bay Area and Southern California.

“We’re working here to deliver early interim service that would be high-speed rail in the Central Valley,” said Brian Annis, the chief financial officer for the High-Speed Rail Authority. “And I think that need not come at the expense of regional investments in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.”

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