Clean Transport

Published on November 29th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Is California’s High-Speed Rail Getting More or Less Money Under the New Congress?

November 29th, 2010 by  

Screenshot of high-speed rail visualization from California High-Speed Rail Project

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’.

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Image Credit: screenshot of California high-speed rail visualization

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

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  • Ted Crocker

    Here is what the California HSR project has dwindled down to; the proverbial bridge to nowhere created by fully subsidized jobs, and paid for by the tax payers.

    Is it any wonder that Lewis is thinking that giving CA ARRA funding for HSR wasn’t such a good idea after all? It seems CA is headed towards building a glorified Amtrak system in the middle of nowhere, instead of a true HSR system connecting SF and LA as promised. Pulling the funding is very rational and is called cutting losses.

    • Ted: very simply, these things happen in phases. you cannot get to phase 3 without doing phase 1 & 2 first.

  • Dr Stanwyk

    Guys – I suggest you turn your attention to the situation in Ohio and Wisconsin. It is VERY SERIOUS. If those states are allowed to fall, then California is next. An article or two encouraging people in those states to stand up is the only thing that will save California too!

    Also – your image seems to be linked to a weird popup of itself.

  • Pete

    I live in California where the HSR project is now looked at like a huge mistake by most Californians. When the vote was passed to start the project, prop 1A promised lots of things that the HSR authorities have since disregarded or have lied about. I will start with cost. The total cost wa suppose to be $30 billion, now it’s $43 billion and reality and studies predict $200 billion. A one way ticket was suppose to cost $55, now it’s up to $105. Anyone can take a plane for $65. It’s suppose to create 600,000 jobs for Californians, but in reality, it will be like a gold rush and workers from other countries and states will come in and work for lower wages. They talk about it being “Green” and helping curb polution, when just building it over the next 20 years will cause the same amount of polution as 70 years of cars on the road in Cali. They said it would have little if no affect on homes and businesses, when if fact they are trying to push HSR down the Peninsula and other small towns throughout Cali and take houses, businesses and also cut down over 20,000 trees along the way. Then there is the over escalated ridership numbers. UC Berkely and Stanford have both done studies that show bisically the HSR authority just “guessed” on ridership numbers and the actual ridership numbers are less than half of what was predicted. And last, All of the materials used to build this thing is coming from CHINA! and if the Feds don’t fund it, Cali want to barrow the money from China, S. Korea, Japan and Germany. We will have to pay this back with interest (all U.S. taxpayers). So to wrap it up HSR in California is a big waste of taxpayers money and will not produce the promises that the HSR authorities have promised. Please do more research and write a new article. That is if you are an investigative journalist Mr. Shahan. Go to for more info. Thank you. Pete

    • Pete: I’ve got a Master’s in city & regional planning. I’ve studied these issues for years. I’ve seen these arguments come up more times than I can count. I’m sorry to say that I think you go way overboard on your criticisms of the project. There will be environmental impacts, but the long-term environmental benefits are greater. The project will create some jobs for foreigners as well, but it will create a ton of highly-needed jobs for U.S. citizens — find something that will create more. As with any infrastructure project (let alone the largest in CA in 50 years), there will be those who oppose it, but there will be many more who benefit from it. If our society doesn’t progress, you can be sure that the U.S. will not be in the position it is in today globally — and we can already see that shift occurring from 8 years of the Bush administration.

      • Pete

        Thanks for your impute. Sorry if I came accross abrupt. I can appreciate your opinion. This HSR is such a big decision. No one really knows if it will work or not. I just have read and studied the negative vrs. the positive impact on The USA and California. I believe the negatives out way the positives in this case. Your Matsers vrs. my High School diploma. I guess we’ll see who was right in about 10 to 20 years or so. 🙂
        Best wishes.

        • 😀

          yeah, there are uncertainties. we don’t have HSR in the US. 😀

          & everyone has a right to their own opinion based on what they consider more- or less-important societal factors

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