California to get high-speed rail funds 2 states rejected

McClatchy NewspapersDecember 9, 2010 

WASHINGTON — California's high-speed rail plan will receive up to $624 million in additional federal funds, Transportation Department officials announced Thursday.

The new funding adds to the $715 million in federal funds previously awarded to California. It arrives courtesy of Ohio and Wisconsin, two states where recently elected Republican governors decided not to accept their own allotment of high-speed rail dollars.

"I am pleased that so many other states are enthusiastic about the additional support they are receiving to help bring America's high-speed rail network to life," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared in a written statement.

LaHood's redistribution of an additional $1.195 billion in high-speed rail funding provoked cheers among lawmakers who had been lobbying for a bigger slice, but regret among some Midwesterners who saw their own money slip away.

California is one of 12 states that will receive a piece of the redirected funds. Florida, the next biggest beneficiary will get $300 million.

California's two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, had both urged LaHood last month to provide additional funding once it became clear Ohio and Wisconsin would forgo their potential share.

"No other state is as ready, as able, or as determined to develop a high-speed rail system in the near future," Feinstein stated.

Boxer added that the new funding is "great news for California, which has made a strong commitment to high-speed rail and the jobs it creates."

Transportation Department and state officials are still negotiating their grant agreements, which will spell out details of the funding including the final amounts.

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