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First High Speed Rail Segment Likely to be Built in the Central Valley

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A 3D simulation showing a possible high speed rail bridge over the Kern River in Bakersfield, California.

Federal officials have told California that it wants the $4.3 billion it has given to the state for high speed rail to be spent in one of two Central Valley segments -- either the Merced-to-Fresno or the Fresno-to-Bakersfield portions of the $43 billion rail corridor.

State officials said in a statement today that whatever segment is built with federal money must be operational by 2017.

“The Central Valley is indeed key to creating the core of a true high-speed rail system in California, as that is where our trains will travel truly high speeds of 220 miles per hour,” said the rail authority's CEO Roelof van Ark. “But no matter where we start building, the goal remains the same: a statewide high-speed rail system up and running in 2020 connecting the Bay Area with the metropolitan area of Los Angeles and Anaheim, that creates thousands of jobs, improves air quality, and provides us all with a cheaper, faster and more convenient way to travel.”