California chooses initial HSR route

December 6, 2010

A 65-mile route through California’s Central Valley and Fresno has been selected by state officials as the starting point for a high-speed rail passenger line intended initially to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco, reports The New York Times.

That segment would make use of $4.5 billion in federal stimulus funds allocated by to California as seed money for a HSR project that might eventually link Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

The estimated total cost of the project could reach $60 billion. California voters in 2008 voted to authorize the selling of almost $10 billion in bonds to help finance the project, with hopes of attracting additional federal funds, plus private sector funds. Were the bonds sold, the combination of bond funds and the existing federal grant would total less than $15 billion — about 25 percent of the total cost.

The California HSR project is described by The New York Times as “the largest public works project in the United States … [but] “it is unclear how the Republican-controlled House and a tighter Senate will view the project in the next Congress.”

Some Republicans have indicated they will seek to reclaim the $4.5 billion DOT grant as it was awarded without congressional input.