Galgiani praises news that $4.3B in fed funds must be spent in Valley for high-speed rail

Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani (D- Livingston) said about the news that federal officials have clarified that the entirety of federal funding California has received so far – totaling $4.3 billion dollars – must be spent in one of the two Central Valley sections of the High-Speed Rail Project:

“I believe the Federal Railroad Administration recognizes that the Central Valley has made significant progress in bringing impacted parties together to reach agreement on a viable path for construction of the high-speed train, which also minimizes impacts to agriculture land," she said in a news release. Both Merced and Fresno have had committees of community leaders in place for a long time where they have been working together to voice concerns and preferences for particular routes.

"Of specific importance is the fact that these committees included agricultural representatives very early on in the process, so that farmers would have the opportunity to communicate with the High-Speed Rail Authority Board and engineers regarding areas that are significant to agriculture, which areas along the alternative alignments could be workable, and which areas, as initially proposed, could have adverse impacts on agriculture land."

By contrast, there were other areas – the Bay Area and Southern California, that were proposed for funding, where community leaders have only been involved for 10 months, according to the news release So some of these communities feel they are playing catch-up from a knowledge standpoint. Merced and other Central Valley communities, on the other hand, have been working with the Authority from Day 1 to reach consensus on a viable path for HSR.”

The Federal Railroad Administration outlines the federal agency’s requirement that all federal funds for the project must be directed to either the Merced-to-Fresno or to the Fresno-to-Bakersfield portion of the project. The available funding total incorporates the Authority’s January 2010 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federal funding award, matched dollar-for-dollar with state funds, and last week’s award of $715 million matched with an additional 30 percent in state funding.

The first phase of the 800-mile project is planned to connect the Bay Area with Los Angeles and Anaheim, traveling through Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield. California has received the largest amount of federal funding awarded to this work in any state, which signals that the project has the confidence of the Obama administration, the news release said.

The High-Speed Rail Authority Board members meet today to consider formal criteria to guide the selection of which of the segments of the project will receive the initial capital funding. The proposed criteria reflect both the legal requirements in Proposition 1A, put on the November 2008 ballot by Assemblymember Galgiani’s AB 30304 and federal law, as well as steps to maximize the benefits to the public while minimizing risks to project completion.