Across California the California High Speed Rail Authority is hosting rallies in support of the state's application for federal rail stimulus funds. You can follow along at the Authority's official Twitter feed, @cahsra.
The official application was unveiled today in a press conference with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Speaker Karen Bass, and a whole host of other dignitaries, including most of the CHSRA board. The total amount of the application is $4.7 billion, which closely tracks the $4.5 billion the board approved on September 23. When combined with state and local matching funds, including funds from Prop 1A that would be eligible to be spent with the 50% match required under AB 3034, the total funding this could generate for the HSR project is $10 billion, more than enough to get actual construction work underway.
Some of the statements from the LA event:
At a news conference at Union Station, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he is a high-speed rail "fanatic" and asserted the project would provide a $10 billion economic boost to the state.
"I think it is disgraceful for America to be so far behind when it comes to infrastructure," Schwarzenegger said. "In Europe and Asian countries, they're traveling now up to 300 miles (per hour on bullet trains) while we're traveling on our trains at the same speed as 100 years ago. That is inexcusable. America must catch up."
Schwarzenegger said California deserved to get more than half of the $8 billion in federal stimulus money set aside for high-speed rail development because it is further along in planning than other states and is ready to break ground in 2011, a year before the federal deadline for getting the money.
Also, Schwarzenegger said "those stimulus dollars will go further in California than in any other state because California has pledged to match -- dollar for dollar -- all money received" from the federal government....
In a statement, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa touted the project's environmental benefits.
"A high-speed rail system that runs faster on one-third the energy of air travel, and one-fifth the energy of car travel, will dramatically reduce CO2 emissions and the time people spend stuck in traffic on our state's freeways," he said.
Among the backers of the application is Senator Barbara Boxer, who put out this statement:
Senator Boxer said, “I am pleased to support the request that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is making today. California voters have already committed nearly $10 billion in state bonds for this effort. This investment of federal high-speed rail funds could help us create more than 130,000 jobs in California, reduce air pollution and congestion on our roads, and accelerate our push for a cleaner and more efficient transportation system.”
Of course, CHSRA's approved application wasn't the final version. The applications for federal stimulus come from the governor's office. And that is where things are starting to get interesting. No small amount of money was shifted around between the September 23 proposal and today's proposal. From the September 23 application:
$1.28 billion for San Jose to San Francisco, including station improvements, grade-separations, electrification and safety state-of-the-art "positive train control" in an upgraded, shared alignment with Caltrain.
$466 million for Fresno to Merced, including right-of-way acquisition, grade-separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, guideway structures and track.
$819.5 million for Bakersfield to Fresno, including right-of-way acquisition, grade-separations,
utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, guideway structures, track relocation and new track.
$2 billion for Los Angeles to Anaheim, including high-speed train facilities at Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS), Norwalk Station, and the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC); right-of-way acquisition, grade-separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, guideway structures, tunneling, and track work.
And from the October 2 application:
$2.18 billion for Los Angeles to Anaheim, including high-speed train facilities at Los Angeles Union Station, Norwalk Station and the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center; right-of-way acquisition, grade-separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, guideway structures, tunneling, and track work. Total jobs created: 53,700.
$980 million for San Francisco to San Jose, including station improvements, grade separations, electrification and safety state-of-the-art "positive train control" in an upgraded, shared alignment with Caltrain. Total jobs created: 34,200.
$466 million for Merced to Fresno, including right-of-way acquisition, grade-separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, guideway structures and track. Total jobs created: 10,500.
$819.5 million for Fresno to Bakersfield, including right-of-way acquisition, grade-separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, guideway structures, track relocation and new track. Total jobs created: 16,500.
$276.5 million for preliminary engineering and environmental work in all system segments including Los Angeles to San Diego via the Inland Empire, Los Angeles to Palmdale and Bakersfield, Sacramento to Merced and the Altamont Rail Corridor. Total jobs created: 12,000.
The differences appear to be:
-$300 million on the Peninsula
+$180 million for LA-Anaheim
We still don't know yet what the details of the shift have been, as the detailed application information has yet to be provided to the public.
Apparently the funding request for the Transbay Terminal train box is still in the plan, but due to a lack of political lobbying leadership on the Peninsula, other voices on behalf of other parts of the state were more successful in retaining funding.
There are also rumors flying around about money for Caltrans' Division of Rail, which operates the popular and important Amtrak California routes. Some reports I've heard claim that $300 million was moved out of HSR and into Caltrans rail projects. Richard Tolmach, a die-hard HSR denier, put out a press release quoted in the comments to yesterday's post, where he claims that CHSRA staff "successfully convinced the Governor's office on the afternoon of Thursday October 1 to block about $3 billion of conventional rail proposals under development by Caltrans."
The problem here is that under Track 2 of ARRA, most of the money is intended to serve high speed rail projects. It is likely that Amtrak California has gotten some funding, as they should. But the notion that $3 billion would ever have been dedicated by the state to funding non-HSR intercity rail is ridiculous, and it is simply not credible to believe that the USDOT would have ever been willing to fund $3 billion in non-HSR intercity rail even if the state of California asked it to do so. Tolmach is spinning - and that's being generous - when he says, without producing any evidence, that the CHSRA tried to undermine other passenger rail. We have no reason to believe any such thing occurred, in no small part because we have no reason to believe any other passenger rail was likely to get a whole lot of money.
And despite Tolmach's claims, the most persistent stories I've heard on this all day is that Caltrans rail programs actually got MORE money than they were expecting.
While we try to sort out what, if anything, was left on the cutting room floor, we should not forget the movie itself. California High Speed Rail is poised to get around $4 billion in federal funding, which will enable the project to spend potentially $9 or $10 billion by 2012 to get underway.
That is a tremendous accomplishment. Now it's up to the US Department of Transportation to deliver the goods. And based on what the White House has said, California can expect to receive most or even all of the money requested in this application.
Despite what the deniers, NIMBYs, and naysayers may argue, this train is leaving the station. California high speed rail is going to happen.