California high-speed rail project has $929 million in funding restored

June 14, 2021
The project’s Cooperative Agreement was terminated in 2019 under the Trump Administration, which found the project’s sponsor was not in compliance with the agreement terms.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and state of California have reached a new agreement that will restore the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s (CHSRA) $928.6 million in federal funding that had been de-obligated in 2019 under the FRA of the Trump Administration.

“This settlement agreement follows intensive negotiations between the parties and reflects the Federal government’s ongoing partnership in the development of high-speed rail. It also underscores CHSRA’s commitment to deliver this transformative infrastructure project. The Department is excited about reestablishing this important relationship with the State of California and is committed to fulfilling its oversight responsibilities. This settlement is an important step in advancing an economically transformational project in California,” said FRA Deputy Administrator Amit Bose.

A brief history of the agreement termination

In February 2019, the FRA under the Trump Administration sent a letter to CHSRA that stated its intent to terminate the Fiscal Year 2010 Cooperative Agreement and cited four main reasons, including failure to achieve agreed on levels of state funding, inability to complete the project by 2022, lack of financial reporting and failure to take corrective steps to deliver the project.

The agreement was terminated and the funding de-obligated in May 2019 following what the FRA under the Trump Administration called careful consideration.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the agreement termination “political retribution” on the state and vowed to defend the project.

Now that a settlement has been reached between parties, an “Amended FY10 Agreement” will be executed for the project.

What this means for the California’s high-speed rail project

CHSRA is currently working to build and deliver the initial operating segment of the project that will see high-speed rail operate along 119 miles in the Central Valley. CHSRA says it has an average of 1,100 workers per day at more than 35 active construction sites.

“With this settlement, it’s clear we once again have a strong federal partner on this challenging but transformative project. We appreciate FRA’s expression of confidence that we are getting this project on the right track. Let’s continue the work of creating jobs and building the nation’s first truly high-speed rail project right here in California,” said CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.