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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Denham's measure passes to halt funds for California's high-speed rail project; state's authority OKs high-speed rail contract

The transportation and housing bill passed by the House earlier this week included U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham's (R-Calif.) amendment that would nullify the current grant agreement between the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA).

The amendment would prohibit any appropriated funds from being used for high-speed rail in California or for administering a grant agreement that includes a tapered match, according to a press release issued by Denham's office.

The amendment would hold the authority accountable for its finances, Denham said in the release. He noted that when the FRA initially awarded the authority with a nearly $3 billion stimulus grant, it required a dollar-for-dollar match. After the state missed that payment deadline, the FRA amended the agreement to allow for a tapered match, which allowed federal dollars to be spent in advance of matching dollars, he said.

"The project is several decades behind schedule, nearly $70 billion over budget, and will not meet the speeds, travel times, or ridership levels promised to voters," said Denham. "No longer will they be able to accept a hamburger today for payment on Tuesday."

Meanwhile, the CHSRA's board yesterday approved a seven-year rail delivery partner (RDP) contract, worth $700 million, with global consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. Network Rail Consulting and LeighFisher will provide support to the Parsons Brinckerhoff team, CHSRA officials said in a press release.

The contract recognizes a shift in the program from planning to construction, CHRSA officials said in a press release.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/11/2015