Feds pumping $6B into two new California speed-rails, travel to Vegas at 200mph

Feds pumping $6B into two new California speed-rails, travel to Vegas at 200mph
The Biden administration announced $6 billion in funding for two high-speed rail projects that would transport passengers from Southern to Northern California and Los Angeles County to Las Vegas on 200-mph electric trains.

The financing is part of a $8.2 billion national high-speed rail program.

President Biden dubbed it “the most ambitious rail project in the Western Hemisphere” and said it will put the US on pace with Asian and European train spending.

“When I ran for president, I promised to build world-class, high-speed rail worthy of the US. On Dec. 9, President Biden announced at a Las Vegas campaign event, "At long last, we're building the first high-speed rail project in our nation's history."

“We’ll finally build high-speed rail between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Some of you know what it's like to sit in traffic on interstates trying to drive from L.A. to Las Vegas,” the President said, adding that the Brightline train line will boost tourism during the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

The 218-mile project received $3 billion from the federal government.

“The rail project reduces carbon emissions the same as taking 3 million vehicles off the highway,” he said.

On December 5, U.S. House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi announced that the California High-Speed Rail (CHSR) project will receive $3.1 billion in federal funding to build a two-track electrified high-speed passenger bullet train between Merced, Fresno, and Bakersfield.

"Electrified high-speed rail will dramatically improve the quality of life in the Central Valley and across California," Pelosi added.

“Thank you to President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg for recognizing high-speed rail's importance to California and our nation. California received this funds from a competitive national grant program under Congress' 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure and Appropriations legislation. The completed train route will carry tourists from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under three hours across the Central Valley. Today, the bus or vehicle journey takes eight hours.

“Think of how this train will transform California’s Central Valley with new businesses, new residents, visitors, economic opportunities, or what it will mean to folks who live in inland towns and commute to work in Californian coastal cities,” Biden added.

The first American CHSR project modernizes passenger rail. The San Francisco to Los Angeles line would have 31.3 million riders per year once CHSR is fully operating, making it America's most trafficked intercity passenger train service.

This initiative has created nearly 11,000 union employment, mostly for Central Valley and underprivileged Bay Area citizens. It has employed hundreds of small firms, including veterans and disabled entrepreneurs, and produced over $12 billion in economic activity, according to Newsom's administration.

SCAG released its draft Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy on Nov. 2 outlining $750 billion in transportation investments and a regional development pattern to meet federal transportation air quality standards and state greenhouse gas emission targets.

This plan update includes additional housing crisis and homelessness, climate change, and underrepresented community investment ideas. “High-speed rail will make travel easier and quicker, generate thousands of good-paying jobs, and create cleaner air,” said Sen. Laphonza Butler.

The L.A.-Las Vegas Brightline West inter-city, interstate light-speed rail link will be America's first high-speed passenger rail system. Over 85% of the 50 million yearly visits between the cities are by vehicle. Brightline West anticipates carrying over 11 million one-way passengers. Metrolink's San Bernardino route will connect L.A. Union Station and beyond to Rancho Cucamonga, where the L.A.-to-Vegas high-speed rail begins. Additional stations will be planned in Hesperia Apple Valley and Las Vegas.

SCAG expects the six-county region where Brightline West would run to grow by 2 million people to 20.8 million by 2050, an 11% increase, and by 1.3 million jobs, or 14.2%. Brightline West will produce over 35,000 employment, including 10,000 construction positions and roughly 1,000 operations and maintenance jobs, according to economic estimates. California and Nevada will benefit from over $10 billion from the project.

Nearly 1,000 permanent operations and maintenance positions are expected. Numerous California Republican legislators questioned rail projects and government investments. “Might as well light the money on fire,” Assembly Republican James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) wrote on X on Dec. 6. They keep throwing billions at this fiasco despite poor management and big overruns.

The Biden-Newsom way.” “As Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, I look forward to working on securing the federal government as an ongoing funding partner for high-speed rail, similar to the partnership in place when the country's national highway system was built,” said Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City).

Under the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act, the federal government funded 90% of interstate roads and the state 10%.
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