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State bullet train angles for share of $2.4 billion in federal funds

February 16, 2011 |  1:18 pm

California bullet-train supporters began lining up Wednesday to snatch a sizable share of $2.4-billion in federal high-speed rail funding Florida Gov. Rick Scott has decided to reject.

More than $600 million was reallocated to California by the Obama administration after new Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin turned down high-speed rail money after the November elections.

The administration, which has made high-speed rail development a signature initiative, signaled Wednesday it is again looking to redistribute the Florida funds, said Jeffrey Barker, deputy executive director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

More than a decade of planning has put California “in a great position to be so competitive for federal dollars,” he said.

The proposed Los Angeles-to-San Francisco route, with trains traveling up to 220 mph, is the only truly high-speed train project in the country in advanced stages of planning, he said.

"Florida’s loss is California’s gain,” the California Labor Federation, a leading backer of the project, said in a statement.

Construction on a $5.5.-billion, 120-mile section of Central Valley track is expected to begin next year. That non-operational starter segment could be extended northwest toward San Jose or south toward Palmdale, if a significant infusion of new money is received.

However, more than $10 billion in future federal allocations are needed to finish the line between the Bay Area and Southern California will be harder to come by now that Republicans control the House of Representatives.

Key GOP leaders have criticized the administration’s proposal to spend $50 billion on high-speed rail nationwide over the next six years.


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-- Rich Connell