Thursday, February 09, 2017

High-speed rail, Peninsula electrification make California wish list for federal funds

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High-speed rail, Peninsula electrification make California wish list for federal funds Caltrain

The state of California put forth its initial list of priority infrastructure projects to the National Governor's Association for consideration by the federal government.

 

The list represents more than $100 billion worth of investment and encompasses road, levee, bridge, port, train and public transit projects.

The letter from Nancy McFadden, executive secretary of California Gov. Jerry Brown, read in part, "In the short-term, these projects will benefit businesses up and down the state and put thousands to work–many in communities with the highest rates of unemployment. Long-term, this investment will have lasting, expansive economic benefits by moving goods and people faster, protecting vulnerable communities from flooding, bolstering emergency response capabilities, saving and storing more water and improving energy reliability."

The rail specific projects included on the list are:

  • Expand and improve Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) rail and bus network (Purple Lines, Airport Connector and Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit) to benefit commuters and the 2024 Olympic bid
  • Modernize and replace the LACMTA rail fleet
  • Link Santa Ana and Garden Grove with the Orange County Streetcar Project
  • Extend Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to San Jose
  • Expand and replace BART and Muni rail fleet
  • Construct streetcar system in Sacramento and improve the regional transit vehicle fleet
  • Reconfigure and expand Port of Long Beach Pier B on-dock rail support facility
  • Electrify the Caltrain Peninsula Corridor
  • Expand the ongoing Central Valley to Silicon Valley high-speed rail construction to include service from San Francisco to San Jose, Merced to San Jose, North of Bakersfield to Bakersfield and construct the Southern California improvements from Burbank to Anaheim, benefiting HSR, freight, commuter rail and the 2024 Olympic bid

The state's 14-member Republican delegation made waves this week when it sent a letter to new U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requesting a halt to the pending $647-million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to Caltrain to help fund the electrification of the Peninsula Corridor. In a letter of their own, the California Democrats rebuffed the GOP's letter as misleading and explaining the grant was to benefit the rail authority's project, which is only loosely tied to the high-speed rail project.

While the electrification of the corridor would better prepare the system to accommodate future high-speed rail, Caltrain Executive Director Jim Harnett released a statement noting Caltrain's system provides another option to those traveling the U.S. 101 freeway, but that ridership has outpaced the system's capacity.

"The Electrification Project is an opportunity to increase the capacity of the system and transform the way Peninsula residents experience transit. Caltrain is already the mobility option of choice for over 65,000 daily riders. By connecting our communities with more service to more stations and reducing travel times, electrification will make Caltrain even more attractive, equipping the system to accommodate more riders and providing significant relief to drivers on our busy local streets and roads and our increasingly congested freeways," said Hartnett.

He explained the project hinges on securing the $647-million grant, which will be matched with more than $1.3 billion in local, regional and state commitments.

McFadden's letter concluded with a statement that California is thinking of how to move its population today and tomorrow, "To prepare for the future – and complement federal investments – California is doing its part by working on legislation to ensure a permanent and sustainable funding stream is in place to further support road, highway and other critical infrastructure construction and improvements – part of a 10-year transportation investment plan."

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