Wednesday, December 3, 2008

California High-Speed Line Banks on Washington

Despite financial markets and an economy that are in the tank, the executive director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority is confident of his agency's ability to raise the money its needs for the first phase of its $45 billion, 800-mile high-speed rail project. With the state's voters having authorized a $9.9 billion bond sale in last month's election, Mehdi Morshed is looking east, specifically to Washington, D.C., to find the rest, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Why is are project supporters bullish? They cite the new tone in Washington with Barack Obama becoming the next President and Democrats strengthening their majority in Congress. They anticipate the Democrats will spring for billions of investment spending for things like roads, bridges, airports...and rail lines.
"I'm sure there will be federal money," said Morshed. "When we talk about jump-starting the economy, how are you going to do that without creating jobs?"
Potential funding sources include:
  • A $500 billion economic stimulus package expected to include heavy public works spending that Congressional leaders are preparing.
  • Legislation introduced by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Arlen Specter, R-Penn., that would authorize the sale of $23 billion in tax-exempt bonds to finance high-speed rail projects , with at least $10 billion of that set aside for California and the Northeast.
  • $1.5 billion for high-speed rail projects over the next five years in 11 corridors across the United States included in Amtrak reauthorization legislation signed in October by President Bush.
As one California business leader noted, "high-speed rail is now 'when,' not 'if.'"

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