California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Wednesday that authorizes spending $4.7 billion, partly from the sale of bonds, to start construction of a high-speed intercity passenger rail network.
Brown said the state’s investment would be matched by $7.9 billion in federal and local money to fund transportation projects linked to the high-speed rail project.
“By improving regional transportation systems, we are investing in the future of our state and making California a better place to live and work,” Brown said in a statement Wednesday.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority estimates the overall cost of building a 500-mile bullet-train system at $68 billion.
Lawmakers approved Senate Bill 1029 at the beginning of the month to fund the initial construction of the project, envisioned to eventually connect the Los Angeles area with the San Francisco area. The bill received the bare minimum of 21 votes it needed.
Of the bond funding authorized by lawmakers, $2.6 billion will be used to fund the first leg of the bullet train line in the Central Valley, roughly from Fresno to Bakersfield.
The Legislature needed to fund the Central Valley section to secure $3.2 billion of federal grant money.
Some of the bullet train bonds may be taxable, depending on the specific project they are used to fund, according to the treasurer’s office.
The rest of the $2.17 billion of bonds will go toward upgrading existing rail lines across the state that will be part of the proposed network. Of that, $819 million will be used to connect state and local railroads, $1.1 billion will fund Caltrain upgrades in the San Francisco area and Metrolink in Southern California, and $252 million will go to system-wide environmental and design work, Finance Department officials said.
The bond money will come from Proposition 1A, a $9.95 billion authorization approved by voters in 2008.
The rail authority’s current business plan assumes $8.2 billion of the bonds would be used for construction after other costs, such as preliminary design, engineering and administrative work.