Published on November 29th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan8
Is California’s High-Speed Rail Getting More or Less Money Under the New Congress?
The incoming Congress is turning a lot of things around that were on a steady, even path forward, or looking to do so, at least. One big thing many incoming Republicans are taking aim at is high-speed rail. No surprise here, since high-speed rail has been a big focus of the Obama administration (due to its many benefits), and the focus of such Republicans seems to just be taking down anything Obama is working on.
Anyway, the biggest and one of the most likely high-speed rail projects in the U.S. is the California high-speed rail project. I’ve read articles lately about how this project may lose a bit of its funding as well as articles discussing how it may get more federal funding. So, which is it?
How California Could Lose High-Speed Rail Funding
Basically, 27 House Republicans want to pull the plug on “$2 billion in stimulus funds promised to California to kick-start the massive project” as well as another $10 billion for other projects and purposes around the nation. These Republicans have introduced the American Recovery and Reinvestment Rescission Act aimed at cancelling the disbursement of the final $12 billion of unspent and uncommitted stimulus funds — they would prefer this money just get sent to the U.S. Treasury.
California has only spent about $200 million of its $2.25 billion high-speed rail stimulus fund award because it is saving the remaining $2 billion or so for construction, which it intends to start in 2012.
Keeping this money from California would be a horrible idea and would seriously delay if not halt work on the project, but, luckily, it is seems unlikely that a Democrat-controlled Senate or Obama are going to support this proposal to undo the work they have put in over the past couple years getting the U.S. economy back on its feet.
So, it is unlikely this money will ever be kept from California.
How California Could Gain High-Speed Rail Funds
With a number of newly-elected governors saying they are going to reject the money the federal government has awarded them for high-speed rail projects (which cannot be redirected to less efficient and less economically beneficial road projects in their states), there could be a lot more available for states that are deciding to move forward with their high-speed rail plans. California could be one such state (in fact, it is quite likely that it would be). For more on this, check out: California Beckons High-Speed Rail Despite Midterm Derailment in Funding
While a transformative transportation project like this — the largest public works project in California in 50 years — is sure to continue facing some opposition, I would say that California’s high-speed rail future looks brighter than most states’.
Image Credit: screenshot of California high-speed rail visualization