Capital Costs & Funding
The challenges of funding a transportation project of the complexity and magnitude of the California high-speed rail system are not new to this program or other large-scale transportation and infrastructure programs across the country and around the world.
Although the Authority has secured significant funds from both state and federal sources, the biggest challenge the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) has faced is securing full funding for delivering the entire high-speed rail system.
The Authority has secured approximately one-third of the funds needed to complete the current estimated cost of the system:
- In 2008, Californians voted to build electrified high-speed rail by approving Proposition 1A, which provided $9.95 billion for high-speed rail planning and construction; of this, $9 billion was allocated to the Authority and $950 million was allocated to regional and local connectivity projects.
- In 2009, one year after the passage of Proposition 1A, the Authority received $2.5 billion in funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
- In 2010, $929 million in additional federal funding was appropriated by Congress from Fiscal Year (FY10) Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funds.
- In 2014, the Legislature appropriated 25 percent of the annual proceeds from the Cap-and-Trade Program to support the development and construction of the system, providing an ongoing revenue stream.
- In 2017, the Legislature extended the Cap-and-Trade Program through 2030.
These funds are being used to deliver the Central Valley Segment and complete environmental planning and other early work for the entire Phase 1 System, consistent with federal grant agreements.
The total amount of identified federal and state funding for the capital program is currently estimated in the range of $20.6 billion to $23.0 billion, with a medium forecast of $21.8 billion through 2030. The range is based on a dynamic Cap-and-Trade market that best matches historical performance of the auctions.
The Authority’s 2020 Business Plan shows updated cost estimates for the program which will serve as the basis for the Board of Directors to adopt an updated Program Baseline in 2021. This updated included a revised estimate of $13.8 billion meet our federal commitment to construct 119 miles of high-speed rail civil infrastructure in the Central Valley. The current cost estimate to deliver the 500-mile system linking San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim via the Central Valley ranges from $69.01 to $99.9 billion.
In February 2020, we laid out our proposed “building block” implementation strategy for how to invest currently available state and federal funding to advance our mission and meet our federal grant commitments. Central to this strategy is delivering interim 171-mile high-speed rail service between Merced and Bakersfield as soon as possible, even as the Authority continues to seek additional funding to advance the full 500-mile system.
The Authority is making a significant capital investment in the Valley, building 119 miles of high-speed rail infrastructure, running directly through downtown Fresno. The northern terminus is at the Madera Amtrak Station, which is in a remote location, and the southern terminus is Poplar Avenue, which is located in an orchard.
While the 119-mile Central Valley Segment will serve as the nation’s first high-speed rail test track, it does not make sense to stop building there. It does make sense to extend it into the heart of Merced and into downtown Bakersfield.
Introducing high-speed rail service in the Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield corridor will cut travel time in half and allow more frequent, reliable and on-time service. It will improve access and connectivity to other California destinations through better connections to the Bay Area in the north via the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) services and connections with Thruway Bus Service at Bakersfield for travel to Southern California. This will create the initial backbone of the California high-speed rail system.
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