CEO Report

Brian P. Kelly, CEOApril 2021

Federal Items:

I wanted to give an update and review on where we are at on the Federal American Jobs Plan—the $2.3 trillion program that has been put forth by President Biden. There is a lot of work that will go into this over the course of the next couple months and beyond. I had some interactions with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and they are beginning to move into the mockup mode of the initial reauthorization bill which will most likely be a 5-year horizon bill for transportation investments. In totality this program—the entirety of the American Jobs package is something we haven’t seen in decades, it is a $2.3 trillion program that covers infrastructure from transportation to water to broadband to power to all kinds of elements that I will focus on—especially transportation elements.

On the transportation side—we have the following highlights:

  • Biden Administration:
    • The American Jobs Plan includes a $80 billion passenger rail program with $20 billion of that specified for intercity rail, and a $25 billion transformational infrastructure projects fund.
    • The proposed fiscal year 2022 budget includes $625 million for a new, yet unnamed competitive grant program for passenger rail.
    • Funding proposed for local and commuter transit could also benefit high-speed rail construction on shared corridors.
  • Congress:
    • Last year, the House Passed HR 2 that also proposed a significant boost of transportation funding as part of transportation act reauthorization. Among the funding programs was $19 billion for the Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization, and Expansion (PRIME) grants for high speed rail and other transformative rail investments.
    • Increased funding proposed for local commuter transit could also benefit high-speed rail construction on shared corridors.

The totality of this program—the American Jobs Plan—$2.3 trillion across the board for various elements of infrastructure. About $570 billion of that is transportation specific 80 billion of that is specifically for passenger rail.

There has been legislation introduced by Congress. Congressman Costa’s H.R. 867 establishes and implements a high-speed rail corridor development program appropriating $8 billion for four consecutive years, totaling $32 billion. Seth Moulton from Massachusetts has introduced the American High-Speed Rail Act, H.R. 1845, which provides $41 billion annually for 5 years for high-speed and higher-speed rail corridor planning and development.

These are items that are pending at the Federal level. We will utilize our legislative lead Jane Brown to update the board periodically as we go forward and as Congress is taking steps to go forward and how these are taking form and shape.

Again, there have been comments from President Joe Biden, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, and Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose, all continuing support of the investment of high-speed rail nationwide. And of course, we are in close communications with the FRA on some investments that have come to this program what we are working through settlement to maintain.

We will talk more about this at a later date, but just wanted to get more in front of the board regarding the FY10 grant. In May 2019, Trump Administration de-obligated $929 million FY 10 grant, we California filed a legal suit to stop this action. This past March 2021, we worked with the FRA and DOJ to have that matter stayed so we can enter settlement discussions. We currently are in active settlement negotiations.

Regarding our ARRA Grant, the Authority has submitted 100% of $2.5 billion in state match dollars. We are working with the FRA to review and approve invoices and we are working with the Biden Administration to extend the 2022 completion deadline. On April 19th, the FRA approved another $577 million in submitted state funds match for ARRA, bringing the approved total to almost $2.2 billion.

Local Items:

Regarding issue of Wasco—we the Authority filed for the grant at the end of March and we expect award date to be next week, I believe April 26.

Update 5/3/2021: Please know that after this presentation the CEO and Authority were updated that the award announcement is now expected late spring or early summer. The CEO will update the board with this information at the next meeting.

Regarding Fairmead we have been in negotiation with the surrounding counties of Fairmead, Madera, our lead Garth Fernandez has done a terrific job with our council Lisa Crowfoot who has continued to work diligently with the counties. I believe we have a general agreement in concept on how we will move forward on all those issues relative to the mitigation of project impact of the water and sewage issues there as well as the construction of the community center in Fairmead. I think the work, the time, and diligence that has been involved in that effort is close to bearing fruit and hope to report something to the board soon. By end of this month, we are on pace to get all the construction packages in the Central Valley, Construction Packages 1, 2, 3, and 4 under full 100% design. I think it now would be a good time to come to the board in May to do a thorough construction update on each package and share where we have been and the steps we’ll need to make to advance and get that work done.

Relevant Materials:

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