The California High-Speed Rail Authority last week officially applied for all of the high-speed rail funding recently returned to the federal government by the state of Florida.

The authority’s board of directors approved the staff recommendation that California pursue the $2.43 billion recently made available and offer a 20% state match in order to make California more competitive for the funds.

The resulting funds could allow the completion of the entire backbone of the statewide system – linking Merced and Bakersfield, including stations in each respective city. In addition to completing the backbone, it could also allow the authority to build either north or south – north 39 additional miles toward the Bay Area or south, past Bakersfield, up to the Tehachapi Mountains.

“Every mile of track laid in the Central Valley represents another step toward realizing a statewide system to connect north and south,” says Curt Pringle, chairman of the authority board. 

Pringle adds that Florida’s declined funding, if re-allocated to California, has the potential to create up to 64,000 additional well-paying jobs – in addition to the more than 100,000 jobs that will be created with the initial $5.5 billion already secured to begin construction on the high-speed rail system.

The federal government recently announced that states can apply for Florida’s returned $2.43 billion in high-speed rail funding. This funding includes $1.63 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and $800 million in fiscal year 2010 transportation funding. Applications are due by April 4.

Under the authority’s proposal, electrifying the track, purchasing the trains, and operating passenger service would come at a later phase of development.

The draft environmental review for the Central Valley segments is scheduled to be completed in June/July and is scheduled to go before the authority’s board in late 2011/early 2012 for a decision on the final alignment.