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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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Kristin Mercer July 19, 2012 at 04:54 PM
To accommodate HSR on the peninsula, CalTrain's currently proposed "preferred alternative" is to add a passing track (for a total of 3 tracks) from Hwy 92, south to Redwood City. The entire set of 3 tracks through Belmont will have to be raised several feet above their current level in order to clear the Ralston & Harbor Ave. crossings. Electrification will be provided by overhead catenaries the entire length of the peninsula.
Paul B. July 19, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Kristen the proposed plan will elevate the power structures to 60 feet above track level, that on top of what we have now, it will place the HSR about 40 feet higher than current track level. There are no plans to bury or trench this low speed monstrosity. This is a very sad day for California as the funds for Social Services and Education are going to go to this project, because the Federal monies will stop. This will leave Californians working all year everyday to pay their taxes and any money not deducted from their paychecks will be smaller than the fares to ride this stupid project. We all know what "projects" are!
Kristin Mercer July 19, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Paul's estimate of the overall height is worst case, but the tracks will be higher than today, and the wires 30+ feet above that. Even without HSR, CalTrain plans to electrify with the overhead wires. With HSR the additional track is proposed, and the required alignment would likely eliminate some commercial properties to make room. I just want Belmont residents to be aware of the direct impact upon their community.
Steve Hayes July 19, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Kristin For people like me who have not been paying attention, which businesses would be impacted?- on the east or west side of the current tracks?
Kristin Mercer July 19, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Not really known at this time, and it would only be if they added a 3rd track for HSR. For trains to maintain higher speeds the tracks cannot have a pronounced curve (or elevation change); they need a continuous "straight-ish" alignment with the north and south points, and can only curve so much. East would push the 3rd track right up to Old County Road; west would put it through the CalTrain parking lots and some of the El Camino facing businesses; or it could be a little of both. The City has large aerial photos with overlay of the right-of-way you can view in Public Works at City Hall.
Paul B. July 19, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Kirsten & Steve: The plan book is available at the San Carlos Library it is large and detailed and about 2 yrs. old and shows the original variables such as direct burial, open trench and ground level and aerial tram styles of construction. In that book it shows construction impact to 160 feet of both sides of Cal Train track that would impact both sides of Old County and one side of El Camino Real.
Paul B. July 19, 2012 at 09:29 PM
I forgot to mention the new blended rail system the County Supes and Jerry Hill signed onto is Aerial Construction only.

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