Biden: California is a Contender for Rail Funds

Vice President Joe Biden says California's high-speed rail project is well-positioned to compete for a significant share of the $8 billion that the Obama administration set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for rail lines.

California officials will be vying against other states this summer to get funding for a high-speed rail corridor that would ferry passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in a 2-hour, 40-minute trip.

Voters approved $9 billion in bonds for the project in November -- and promoters hope the federal government and the private sector will kick in enough money to help them complete the $34 billion first phase, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Construction between Anaheim and San Francisco would take at least a decade, according to planners quoted by The Times. Ultimately, proponents envision an 800-mile network -- costing at least $45 billion -- that would reach Sacramento and San Diego.

Biden, according to The Times, told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that the administration wants "to get shovel-ready projects out the door as quickly as we can. ...So California is in the game," especially since
high-speed rail has been a priority of the governor and Legislature.

Mehdi Morshed, executive director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, told The Times that two sections of the project could meet the Recovery Act criteria for high-speed rail: of having contracts awarded by 2012 and work completed by 2017.

The sections would be those between Los Angeles and Anaheim, at a cost of $3 billion, and between San Francisco and San Jose, at a cost of $4 billion to $5 billion, he told The Times.

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