LOS ANGELES — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has vowed to oppose confirmation of any U.S. Department of Transportation nominees until the department agrees to release funding for the Caltrain electrification project.
Feinstein made her pledge in opposition to Jeffrey Rosen’s nomination as deputy secretary of transportation.
Feinstein and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, both Democrats, wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao May 8 requesting she release previously approved Caltrain funding being held up by DOT while the Trump Administration determines its position on the state’s $64 billion high-speed rail project.
The recent congressional agreement to fund the federal government through September includes $100 million for the Caltrain project.
“For months, I’ve tried to persuade the Trump administration to release federal funding for the Caltrain corridor,” Feinstein said in a statement. “In the recent spending bill, Congress directed the administration to fully fund this project."
The $1.98 billion Caltrain Peninsula Corridor Electrification project has been on hold since February awaiting Chao’s approval. The price tag includes high-speed-rail stations in San Jose and San Francisco and the cost to convert the diesel-powered commuter system to electric trains.
The conversion would benefit the existing, and heavily crowded, Caltrain system whether or not high-speed rail is built.
A $647 million federal full funding grant agreement approved by the Obama Administration was withheld after Trump took office, with the Federal Transit Administration informing Caltrain that it was “deferring a decision.”
“Despite approval from Congress, the administration continues to withhold funding without any rational justification—wasting almost $1 million a week and jeopardizing 10,000 jobs nationwide,” Feinstein said. “It is long past time for the administration to release the Caltrain corridor funding.”