HSR, Caltrain to simultaneously seek $2b in rail stimulus cash
- Published Thursday, February 19, 2009, by the San Mateo Daily Journal
Rail looking for stimulus funds
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is hoping to grab
approximately $2 billion of the $8 billion from the recent passage
of the federal stimulus package. Some of that money may go to
improve the rail line in San Bruno.
By Dana Yates
Both Caltrain and the California High-Speed Rail Authority will
simultaneously submit applications for part of the federal stimulus
package to aid in the development of electrified rails on the
Peninsula, according to both agencies.
The rail authority is hoping to grab approximately $2 billion of the
$8 billion available to rail projects through the recent passage of
the federal stimulus package. Two of the projects the rail authority
is seeking funding for will also be on the list of projects for which
Caltrain is seeking federal funding, said Judge Quentin Kopp, chair
of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
Both agencies will apply for funding to pay for two San Bruno grade
separations -- where the rail and road are separated -- and Caltrain-
wide electrification, from Gilroy to San Francisco. The projects are
ready for construction by Sept. 30, 2012, Kopp said.
The projects fall within Caltrain's long-term goals and the rail
authority's plan to construct an 800-mile track that will move
riders through the state at 220 mph. A trip between the Transbay
Terminal in downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles Union Station
would take about 2 hours and 38 minutes and would cost about $55
one way. There would be stops on the Peninsula in Millbrae and
Palo Alto, according to the state rail authority.
Caltrain has completed 35 percent of the environmental study
required before it can begin the electrification process. The
project is expected to cost $608 million for infrastructure
upgrades and $397 million for equipment, said agency spokeswoman
"The High-Speed Rail Authority is in a position to access large
amounts of money and they need to obligate these funds by 2012.
Caltrain is fortunate because it has a number of projects ready to
go," Dunn said.
The authority is seeking between $250 million and $300 million for
automatic train controls and communication technology associated
with electrification, Kopp said.
The San Bruno grade separations are estimated to cost $300 million
and are currently expected to be funded through state and local
transportation taxes, Dunn said.
Not everyone is confident the projects will be ready by 2012.
"I don't think anything high-speed rail in the United States is
shovel-ready. There is a lot of shovel-ready stuff around but
high-speed rail is not one of them," said Menlo Park resident
Engel is an outspoken critic of high-speed rail on the Peninsula.
Engel is concerned the project will disrupt neighborhoods because
the high-speed rails will require raised tracks that sometimes go
through the center of a community.
He is also concerned that high-speed rail will only be used by those
who can afford it and will not be available to the average commuter.
The Department of Transportation will issue guidelines for how
competitive grants will be awarded within 120 days. Engel argues
California has a lot of competition. Kopp said the authority is
"We are way ahead of anyone else. I am confident we will receive
some money and almost half of [the $2 billion of applications] will
be simultaneous with the Caltrain electrification project," Kopp
Dana Yates can be reached by e-mail: dana@... or by
phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.