California releases new high-speed rail plan

California has released a new business plan for its high-speed rail project. The plan calls for creating a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles but will cost $98.5 billion – more than twice the previous estimate. The plan will also take several more years to complete than previously estimated, work isn’t expected to end until 2033. Construction will begin next year.

The project will create a 130-mile track between San Francisco and Los Angeles and has the support of the US Department of Transportation. The original plan had an estimated cost of $43 billion and construction duration through 2020 but the California High-Speed Rail Authority revised the plan due to public criticism and initial feedback.

California is the only state working to build tracks for 220 mile-per-hour trains, receiving $3.5 billion in federal funds for the project. The project is central to the President’s infrastructure plans but the Senate recently approved a bill to cut 99 percent of high-speed rail funds for 2012 as the budget fight drags on.

Federal transportation officials have announced strong support for the project as a means of improving not only passenger rail offerings in the area, but increased logistics capacity. For its part, California will be looking at matching funds, public-private partnerships and bond measures to lock down the funding. So far, voters have approved $9.95 billion in bonds toward the project. The state plans to start selling additional bonds immediately to provide additional project financing.

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