Federal infrastructure bill could be big help to California’s bullet train project

State News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL/KGET) — Leaders of California’s high-speed rail project said the recently passed federal infrastructure package could be a big help. 

“This is a huge development for California and this project going forward,” High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly said. 

Kelly said the recently signed bill will provide a big opportunity for the state and the country’s largest rail project. 

“For the federal government to step up and put this level of funding on the table is truly historic,” Kelly said. 

The leader of the state’s $100 billion-and-counting bullet train project noted the legislation provides about $58 billion over six different programs up for grabs. Kelly said the rail authority is ready to compete for some of that money but did not say an exact amount for Thursday. 

“These are all places where we have applied for funding in the past and have awarded some funds in the past and will intend to compete in those going forward,” Kelly said. 

The CEO’s optimistic outlook came at the HSRA board’s monthly meeting. There, board members also got an update on construction, where significant work has been completed on several structures on the 119-mile Central Valley track between Bakersfield and Madera. 

Project leaders are aiming to complete that segment by the end of next year, with planning underway to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2030. 

Thursday’s updates were welcome news to the board, which has seen constant delays and cost overruns for the project. 

“We can’t continue moving forward, giving deadlines that we can’t meet or costs that keep escalating. We have to be as clear as we can in moving this project forward,” board member Henry Perea said. 

Project leaders are looking forward to more federal action on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which they said could provide even more financial opportunity for the bullet train.

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