California solar high-speed rail gets $202m federal boost

The continuing solar-powered high-speed rail project in California has been awarded a grant of around $202 million by the US Department of Transportation.

The allocated funds will be utilized for the development of six grade separations inside the municipal boundaries of Shafter, located in Kern County. In order to enhance safety and optimize the efficiency of road and rail transportation, a proposed approach involves the vertical separation of roads from existing freight trains and anticipated high-speed railways at their intersections. This measure aims to mitigate the occurrence of accidents and facilitate the seamless movement of both road and rail traffic.

The allocation of funds was facilitated through the federal 2022 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program.

According to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the organization designated by the state to implement the project, this recent award is the most substantial funding obtained since the enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November 2021.

California Governor Gavin Newsom remarked that this action demonstrated the Biden administration’s endorsement of the plan. The governing body expresses its aspiration for the commencement of phase 1 operations by the year 2033.

Phase 1 of the proposed transportation system aims to facilitate the transportation of passengers from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin by traversing the Central Valley in a time frame of less than three hours. This will be achieved by employing trains that can attain speeds beyond 200 miles per hour. Phase 2 of the project is expected to encompass the regions of Sacramento and San Diego.

Governor Newsom expressed that these funds serve as a collective demonstration of our unwavering dedication to propel the development of environmentally friendly, electrified high-speed rail systems that will connect major urban centers in California, with the aim of accomplishing this objective before the conclusion of the current decade.

According to the official statement, the train is planned to be powered by solar energy. The company intends to construct a solar farm of utility-scale proportions on a parcel of land measuring 445 acres, which is currently under its ownership.

A total of 119 miles of railway are now being constructed over 25 different sites in the Central Valley region.

The governing body has initiated the process of extending the ongoing construction to a distance of 171 miles.

Additionally, a total distance of 422 miles along the road from the Bay Area to the Los Angeles Basin has been successfully cleared in an environmentally conscious manner.

As of the present time, the State of California has funded 85% of the expenses associated with the project.

The governing body has submitted a request for a substantial amount of government financing, in the billions of dollars, as stipulated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with the intention of utilizing these funds to finalize the development of the Central Valley system.

Ray LaHood, a former US Transportation Secretary and co-chair of the US High-Speed Rail Coalition, expressed that the allocation of this award signifies the increasing momentum of the California High-Speed Rail project.

The speaker emphasized the need for the comprehensive support of the federal government in order to advance this significant undertaking.

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