The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded a combined $6.1 billion to two high-speed rail projects in California and Nevada.
The funds are the largest investment in high-speed rail by the federal government to date and was funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), passed in 2021.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) received a $3.1 billion grant that will accelerate construction of the first segment of the system in California’s Central Valley.
Specifically, the funds will support the purchase of six electric trains, advance the design and construction of trainset facilities, sponsor the design and construction of the Fresno station, pave the way for future expansion and pay for construction in the Central Valley.
California’s high-speed rail line will eventually span 800 miles and include 24 stations that connect Sacramento and San Diego. When completed, it will be the nation’s first high-speed rail line, capable of running from San Francisco to Los Angeles in three hours at speeds of more than 200 mph.
The first segment focuses on the Central Valley between San Francisco/Merced and Los Angeles/Anaheim, which officials hope will be ready for operation between 2030-33. Earlier this year, CHSRA issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for the design of the track and the overhead contact systems for electricity. Statements of qualifications are due Jan. 22, and the board could approve a contract for up to $131.2 million in April.
In Nevada, DOT awarded a $3 billion grant to the Brightline West high-speed rail project, a privately owned initiative that will connect Las Vegas and Southern California, providing an alternative to crowded highways and contributing to the region’s economic growth.
The all-electric, zero emission trains will be capable of reaching top speeds of 200 mph, Brightline officials say. Construction on the 218-mile project is expected to begin early next year.
The rail line is expected to remove 3 million cars from Interstate 15 annually and reduce carbon emissions by over 400,000 tons each year, officials have said. It will provide a convenient and environmentally friendly travel option for residents and tourists alike.
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Photo courtesy of the California High-Speed Rail Authority