California High-Speed Rail Authority officials said Wednesday they've signed a cooperative agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration that will provide $928 million in federal funding for the construction of the project's Central Valley segment.
Thomas J. Umberg, Chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board of directors, said in a press release the announcement of the federal funds "makes good on the promise of our new draft business plan that the funding for the first segment is identified, committed, and we are moving forward."
The announcement comes less than a week after the Republican-led Congress voted to kill all high-speed rail funding beyond 2012.
President Barack Obama had requested $8 billion in fiscal 2012 for the program and $53 billion over six years.
Billions of dollars still in the pipeline will ensure work will continue on some projects, including the scheduled start of construction next year. The California project has been awarded $3.9 billion in federal aid.
The first 30 miles of track is supposed to be built from Madera to just south of Fresno, eventually stretching another 100 miles south to Bakersfield as part of the first phase. Proponents estimate that could put 100,000 people to work over the next five years. More than 1 million jobs are expected to be created in the development and operation of the system over the life of the project, the rail authority's press release says.
With the agreement, all necessary federal funding has been secured for the design and construction of the project's initial segment in the Central Valley.
Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, chairwoman of the Assembly Select Committee on High Speed Rail for California, applauded the announcement, calling it "great news" and a "testament to the federal government's commitment to California's High-Speed Rail system.
"I hope this announcement will offer comfort to those who doubted California would receive the additional federal funding needed to construct the Central Valley segment and provide a clear signal that the project is on track," Galgiani said in a press release.
California envisions European-style bullet trains traveling as fast as 220 mph between San Francisco and Anaheim. Planners hope to start construction of the first phase, from Fresno to Bakersfield, next year and complete it by 2017 at a cost of $6 billion – $3.3 billion in federal funding and $2.7 billion in state bonds.
A new estimate released this month pegged the cost of the statewide system at $98.5 billion and pushed completion to 2034.