WASHINGTON, D.C .– Rep. Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) said the California High-Speed Rail Administration (CHSRA) has been awarded an additional $300 million in federal funding, enabling the state to expand the first phase of the high-speed rail project north toward Merced. The work funded in this round will extend the track and civil work from Fresno to the "Wye" junction, which will provide a connection to San Jose to the West and Merced to the north, according to a news release.
The additional funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and include the high-speed rail money rejected by the state of Florida. Since the additional funding became available, Cardoza said he has been urging the federal government to dedicate the unused monies to California's high speed rail project. In March, he wrote the Secretary of Transportation a letter, signed by five other members of the California delegation, urging approval for California’s application for the additional funding to support extending the first phase of the state’s high-speed rail system north toward Merced and south toward Bakersfield.
"This additional $300 million in federal funding is a step forward in connecting our Valley with the opportunities of the future by ultimately extending the high-speed rail system to Merced," Cardoza said in the news release. "While this award is not as much as we requested, it will nonetheless move us in the right direction.
"The northern part of the Valley has not reaped the economic benefits offered by mass transportation and a stronger link to our state's major urban centers. High-speed rail will be a bridge to those opportunities, creating jobs and boosting businesses in one of the most economically distressed regions of the state. I fully support this federal funding for extending the backbone north toward Merced, and will hold the CHSRA accountable for using it efficiently and transparently."
In his March letter to the U.S. Transportation Secretary and the Federal Railroad Administration Administrator, Cardoza and his colleagues noted that a station in Merced would provide a crucial connection between the high-speed rail system and the forthcoming “Super ACE” express commuter rail line to the Bay Area, the news release said.
Cardoza noted in the news release that extending the initial phase to Merced would create thousands of jobs and provide economic relief to the region. He wrote in the letter, "At this stage of the economic recovery, it is critical that we not overlook opportunities to invest in the hardest-hit areas, where federal funding will not only produce enormous stimulus, but will also prove to be the most effective use of taxpayer dollars."