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U.S. Senate Committee Allocates $2.5 Billion for High Speed Rail

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Earlier this fall, the House of Representatives allocated $4 billion for High Speed Rail in the 2010 transportation bill. Then along came the Senate with a proposal to cut that to $1.2 billion. That changed yesterday.

“The Consolidated Appropriations Committee bill included $2.5 billion for high-speed rail for fiscal year 2010, more than doubling President Barack Obama’s original recommendation of $1 billion and the Senate’s original $1.2 billion figure, but still short of the $4 billion recommended by the House," explained Erin Steva of CALPIRG, a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization. The full Senate is expected to vote on the matter soon. Once passed, the money will be sought for by California and other states in a competitive grant process.

The funding is "a step toward an ongoing, annual commitment to fund the construction of a high-speed rail system throughout the United States," according to Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, who chairs the state's High-Speed Rail Authority. Annual funding for high speed rail could be placed in the upcoming national transportation budget.

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Last year, Californians approved Prop 1a, which gave the state's High Speed Rail Authority a $9 billion boost in bond funding. The state also turned in a $4.8 billion grant application to fund the project, which is envisioned to connect San Diego, Los Angeles, San Franciso, Sacramento and various cities between in relatively short travel times.