WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration sought $1 billion for high-speed rail next year; Congress is on track to provide zip.
In a bad sign -- but not a killing blow -- for California's ambitions, senators this week joined their U.S. House counterparts in dismissing the administration's funding request. The bicameral blow-off means a fiscal 2013 transportation spending bill will omit the high-speed rail dollars that President Barack Obama wanted.
On its face, the omission of new high-speed support does not directly impede California's program. The state already has received $3.3 billion in federal funds to get the project started, and no additional funds were expected for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
"This is something we anticipated," said Dan Richard, chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "In our business plan, we do not expect any additional federal funds for at least three years."
Long-term, though, the omission underscores the complications California could face in coming years when federal funds are explicitly relied upon. The state's latest high-speed rail business plan anticipates the federal government providing $42 billion of the total project cost, now pegged at $68.4 billion.