Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Private Firms Question Funding for California High-Speed Rail

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Private Firms Question Funding for California High-Speed Rail

Article excerpt

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Businesses that might bid to build a high- speed rail network across California are questioning whether there will be enough government funding to complete the complex and ambitious project. That picture emerged from documents the companies submitted to the state rail authority overseeing the project, which solicited ideas for how it should approach building a first segment of 300 miles of track by 2022.

Critics have cited the lack of private investors as a major flaw in planning what would be the nation's largest transportation infrastructure project, with a cost estimated at $68 billion. So the California High-Speed Rail Authority asked firms to suggest how to reduce costs, speed up construction and attract outside money.

In response it received 36 submissions from firms including global construction and engineering giants AECOM, Siemens and Parsons. The rail authority released the documents to The Associated Press under a Public Records Act request.

The authority has planned an "initial operating segment from Merced to Burbank, with the first service scheduled for 2022. On Friday, authority spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley said one purpose of the proposals was to see whether the route could be built sooner.

The target date to connect San Francisco with the Los Angeles area is 2029.

One common theme from the documents: Where will the money come from to make that happen?

"The total funding identified is still insufficient to deliver an initial operating segment, Parsons wrote in its 17-page submission. "This shortfall, as well as the uncertainty around these sources, must be addressed.

The state Legislature agreed last year to provide the first ongoing source of financial support to the project by tapping revenues from the state's greenhouse gas emissions program in which companies buy and sell pollution credits. …

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