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High-Speed Rail In California Faces Funding Headwinds

California High-Speed Rail / Flickr

California's high-speed rail project has taken a couple of recent funding hits, but state officials say the program remains on track, for now.

The Trump administration has suspended a half-billion-dollar grant slated to electrify commuter rail tracks in the Bay Area, which the high-speed rail would eventually share.

Perhaps more critically, the project’s only ongoing source of funding has dried up this past year. The rail project received less than $100 million of the half-billion dollars it expected from the state’s cap-and-trade program, as that faces its own legal uncertainty.

So far, early construction has relied on other federal and state funds.

"Obviously we want all of this stuff clarified for the long-term, but in the short-term, there is no effect," says High-Speed Rail Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard. "We are using federal dollars right now to build in the Central Valley."

The 2009 federal stimulus and voter-approved state bonds are funding initial construction of the first segment, from San Jose to north of Bakersfield.

But ultimately that leg could cost $20 billion, and the project relies on cap-and-trade to fund about half of it.

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