SACRAMENTO-The California High-Speed Rail Authority was awarded$715 million from the federal government, bringing to $4.3 billionthe funding secured to begin construction on the core of the systemin 2012. The project is expected to put thousands of Californiansto work.

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According to California High-Speed Rail Authority chairman, CurtPringle, “Federal funding has once again invigorated the projectand will be a huge boost to the state’s economy. He adds that “Thekey to developing this system is to create a core—a backbone forthe system that will connect our major metropolitan cities. Thisfunding helps us do that and lets us begin to capitalize on whathigh-speed rail means for California in jobs and developmentopportunity and in a more mobile and efficient state.”

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The first phase of the 800-mile high-speed rail system will spanthe San Francisco Bay Area to the Los Angeles metropolitan area andwill be built in several sections to manage the constructionprocess and gets trains on the tracks as soon as possible. Thefederal funding received includes a designation that $715 millionof the funding be used on an eligible section in the CentralValley, earmarking the money for either the Merced-to-Fresno orFresno-to-Bakersfield sections.

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The four sections being considered as the potential launch pointfor high-speed rail construction are San Francisco to San Jose,Merced to Fresno, Fresno to Bakersfield and Los Angeles to Anaheim.The Authority is currently in the environmental analysis phase forall sections in the system.

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“While we recognize that the federal government has indicated apreference by specifying the Central Valley for the bulk of theaward, the Authority is committed to using formal criteria inmaking the selection to decide where to begin building high-speedrail,” explains California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof vanArk.

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The formal criteria the Authority will consider at its nextmeeting—set for November 4 in Sacramento—reflect both the legalrequirements in Proposition 1A and federal law, as well as steps tomaximize the benefits to the public while minimizing risks,according to a prepared statement. Once finalized, the criteriawill be applied to each of the four sections to determine whichwill launch the project in a way that makes possible the core of astatewide system—the top priority for the initial funding. Aselection is expected before the end of the year.

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Also included in the award was $16 million designated toimprovements to the 4th and King Street Station in San Francisco, astation in the San Francisco to San Jose segment proposed to servethe existing commuter rail service and high-speed rail. The $4.3billion in available funding incorporates the Authority’s January2010 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal funding awardmatched dollar for dollar with state funds and today’s award of$715 million matched 30% in state funding, according to therelease.

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Construction is slated to begin late 2012 with the state’shigh-speed rail network providing passenger service from the SanFrancisco Bay Area to the Los Angeles metropolitan area by2020.

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As GlobeSt.com previously reported, panelists at CaliforniaHigh-Speed Rail TOD Marketplace, a seminar—presentedfrom the Anaheim Convention Center by the California chapters ofthe Urban Land Institute—pointed out that “If high-speed rail isgoing to happen in the US, it’s going to start here in California,”According to Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, who chairs the CaliforniaHigh Speed Rail Authority, “It is our responsibility to not bebogged down by lawsuits or other roadblocks, but to focus on thepositive implications and possibilities of high-speed rail.”

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And according to Jeff Heller of international architect HellerManus, who also served as a panelist at the recent event, “Theimplications of high-speed rail are transformative.” Heller addsthat, “The change in flow of people will cause an immediate shiftin land use.”

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Natalie Dolce

Natalie Dolce, editor-in-chief of GlobeSt.com and GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, is responsible for working with editorial staff, freelancers and senior management to help plan the overarching vision that encompasses GlobeSt.com, including short-term and long-term goals for the website, how content integrates through the company’s other product lines and the overall quality of content. Previously she served as national executive editor and editor of the West Coast region for GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum, and was responsible for coverage of news and information pertaining to that vital real estate region. Prior to moving out to the Southern California office, she was Northeast bureau chief, covering New York City for GlobeSt.com. Her background includes a stint at InStyle Magazine, and as managing editor with New York Press, an alternative weekly New York City paper. In her career, she has also covered a variety of beats for M magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, FashionLedge.com, and Co-Ed magazine. Dolce has also freelanced for a number of publications, including MSNBC.com and Museums New York magazine.