$68.4B high-speed rail plan speeds construction

Rep. Jim Costa speaks out in favor of high-speed rail during Fresno press conferenceRep. Jim Costa speaks out in favor of high-speed rail during Fresno press conference(AP) — The authority overseeing planning for California's high-speed rail project has released a fresh proposal with a new price tag and a scaled-back design.

 

The plan released Monday after a news conference in Fresno merges the bullet train with existing commuter rail lines in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles basin.

It puts the cost at $68.4 billion and completion in 2028, about five years earlier and $30 billion less than a draft plan released last fall. The new cost is still $25 billion more than the plan voters approved four years ago.

"Our revised plan makes high-speed rail better, faster and cheaper," said Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "Drawing on hundreds of public comments as well as the expertise of our technical staff, we were able to refine our thinking and improve the plan enormously. The revised plan will enhance local rail service immediately and, in the long term, cut total project costs by $30 million."

Gov. Jerry Brown asked the California High-Speed Rail Authority to revamp its earlier proposal and make construction quicker and cheaper.

The updated plan calls for spending nearly $1 billion to electrify Caltrain between San Francisco and San Jose, which officials say would speed up rail service and possibly generate more riders.

The first segment would link the Central Valley to the San Fernando Valley in 10 years.

Rep. Jim Costa, Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and LeAnn Eager, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County, joined representatives from the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board at the conference in support of the project.

Many harkened back to 2008 when voters passed the more than $9 billion bond proposition that approved building the system while each expressed a common message of job creation, economic development, environmental soundness and faster transportation across the state was