The California High-Speed Rail Authority has been awarded a $928.6 million grant for initial construction of the state's high-speed rail system.
"California's population will grow by 60 percent over the next 40 years. Investing in a green, job creating high-speed rail network is less expensive and more practical than paying for all of the expansions to already congested highways and airports that would be necessary to accommodate the state's projected population boom," says Ray LaHood, Sec't of the Dept of Transportation in his announcement.
Combined with voter-approved state support and previously-awarded federal dollars, the grant will fund the first leg of the 220-mile rail system, and put more than 100,000 people to work during the next five years.
Over the course of the network's construction, over a million jobs will be created, along with 450,000 indirect jobs by 2040.
California's high speed rail system will connect to local transit and commuter services, reducing road travel in a state that has 60% of the nation's most congested metropolitan areas.
Californians consumed more than 38 million gallons of fuel just sitting in traffic last year, according to a study by the Texas Transportation Institute, which also found that 31 other states are laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors.
The DOT has thus far invested $10.1 billion in expanding rail access across the country.
High-speed rail is expected nearly double around the world over the next few years, and will be in 24 countries by 2014, reports Worldwatch Institute. 14 countries have high-speed trains today. China, Japan, Spain, France, and Germany are the leaders, and Turkey is planning 2,400 kilometers of track.
The interest is due largely to its reliability and ability to cover vast geographic distances in a short time, to investments aimed at connecting once-isolated regions, and to the diminishing appeal of air travel, which is becoming more cumbersome because of security concerns.