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Governor Signs High-Speed Rail Funding Bill

Law unlocks billions in funding for high-speed rail, Caltrain and BART.

Governor Jerry Brown this morning signed the High-Speed Rail funding bill and will do so again this afternoon in San Francisco.

The bill, S.B. 1029, unlocks $4.7 billion in funding via the sale of state bonds approved by California voters 2008.  The funding will go in part to modernizing Caltrain and other regional transportation systems, and will be matched by a $7.9 billion investment from federal and local dollars.

“This legislation will help put thousands of people in California back to work,” said Governor Brown in a statement Wednesday. “By improving regional transportation systems, we are investing in the future of our state and making California a better place to live and work.”

Brown signed the legislation at Union Station in Los Angeles, and will have another ceremonial signing at the site of the new Transbay Terminal in San Francisco Wednesday afternoon. 

Both stations will serve as termini for the high-speed rail line.

The legislation authorizes $700 million in state funding for electrifying Caltrain by 2019, and will be matched with $2 billion in additional federal and local funding. This is on top of funding authorized for building a light rail connection in Southern California linking Metro transit to Union Station.

“I am very pleased the Governor has signed legislation authorizing the first leg of construction for California’s High Speed Rail Project,” said Speaker John A. Pérez. “This ambitious project will create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars for our state, and my colleagues and I have been very pleased to work with the Governor to keep this project moving forward.”

“California’s transit system cannot stagnate because the facts are unforgiving: 20 million additional residents by 2050,” said Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “You can pave farmlands with new roads and blackout skies with airplanes but the air we breathe will be no better than a tailpipe. This project brings an infusion of energy into rural areas of high unemployment and provides relief for urban traffic gridlock. Most importantly, it’s an investment in California’s future.”

The initial segment of high-speed rail will begin construction in 2013 and link Merced to the San Fernando Valley. The California High-Speed Rail Authority and the Governor’s office claim this will create 100,000 job-years of employment in five years, equivalent to 20,000 full-time jobs annually, but those number are disputed by watchdog groups, including Palo Alto’s Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design.

SB 1029 also includes money for replacing train cars on BART and implementing Positive Train Control, an automated system for controlling trains designed to stop collisions.

The total investment in Northern California transportation projects unlocked by SB 1029 totals $3.6 billion, according to the Governor’s office. Southern California will get $2.8 billion, and the Central Valley will get $6 billion.

The legislation also ratchets up the reporting requirements on the High-Speed Rail Authority, a move designed to boost accountability, manage project risks, and keep construction on schedule and within budget.

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