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State applies for federal funds for high-speed rail line

October 2, 2009 |  4:31 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was joined by several state and local officials today at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to announce California's application for $4.7 billion in federal money to fund a high-speed rail line.

California voters approved a nearly $10-billion bond last November to begin building a high-speed rail network connecting Southern California to the Bay Area and Sacramento.

The governor said Californians would match the federal grant "dollar for dollar" with state and local funds, including money from a high-speed rail bond.

"It's disgraceful for America to be so far behind in terms of infrastructure," Schwarzenegger said, referring to international high-speed rail projects. "America must catch up.... We need to now have Washington's help" with this project, he said.

Officials including state Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D- Los Angeles), Los Angeles City Council members Eric Garcetti and Janice Hahn, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle and Dale Bonner, state secretary of business, transportation and housing, were among those who stood alongside the governor to show "unity" in the application for federal funds and praised the project because they said it could create some 130,000 jobs.

"High-speed rail is going to be a big engine for California's economy," Bass said.

Also in attendance were California Public Interest Research Group members from UCLA, USC and Santa Monica College, who chanted slogans in favor of high-speed rail. One member held a sign that read "fast trains are cool" and "high-speed rail now."

Although many of those at the news conference spoke of "unity" in moving forward with the project, at least one official who did not attend released a statement that showed not everyone is full speed ahead.

"I support the concept of high-speed rail, but believe there should be more than one alternative studied in downtown Los Angeles. Any EIR should include more than one option," said Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes. "That's why I introduced a resolution last month urging the High Speed Rail Authority to study other possible locations for a downtown rail station."

"I have some serious concerns about how the proposed rail route will impact our neighborhoods, including those along the Los Angeles River, especially since we have invested more than $80 million to provide new parks at the Cornfield and Taylor Yard."

—Ari B. Bloomekatz at Union Station