Obama Proposes $4 Billion for HSR

President Obama’s new jobs bill includes $50 billion for infrastructure construction, including $10 billion for an infrastructure bank, $4 billion for high-speed rail, and $2 billion for Amtrak. Assuming it can get past the Republican Congress and that it will not be watered down as it already has been since the beginning of the year, the question arises: where to spend the money?

Fortunately, the separate grant for Amtrak suggests that the Northeast Corridor will be funded from a separate pile of money. This means that it’s more feasible to spend 100% of the HSR money in California. I claim that, in light of California’s present funding situation, this is the best possible use of the money, and, furthermore, the federal government should let California know of this as soon as possible, before it lets contracts out to tender.

Recall that California’s present HSR money is sufficient to build from Bakersfield to a point between Fresno and Merced, at least in principle, as the Environmental Impact Report projects slightly higher costs. Recall further that the $8 billion that could be made available to California – Obama’s $4 billion plus matching funds from Proposition 1A – are more or less enough to build from Bakersfield to Sylmar.