Boxer and DiFi want Fla.’s high-speed rail money

California’s U.S. Senators today urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to redirect to California more than $2 billion federal funds for high-speed rail that have been turned down by Florida.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott earlier today nixed an HSR project in his state. Last year, LaHood had redirected $624 million to California after senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both D-Calif., made a similar request as several states cancelled their HSR projects.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, earlier today said Florida’s loss could be California’s gain.

“It’s a cloudy day in the Sunshine State for the millions of Floridians who truly want to see jobs created in their state, but Florida’s deep loss is likely to be California’s tremendous gain,” he’d said in a news release. “When the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin surrendered their federal high speed rail money, destroying thousands of jobs in Ohio and Wisconsin, President Obama and Transportation Secretary LaHood shifted much of their money to California. I encourage the Administration to do the same with Florida’s previously allocated $2.4 billion.”

“Planning and construction of California’s high speed rail system is already underway, creating good jobs in the Golden State. We’re prepared to show the rest of the country what a modern transportation network looks like and will gladly invest every penny the federal government is willing to provide,” he said.

Read the senators’ letter to LaHood, after the jump…

We are writing to express California’s continued commitment to the President’s high-speed rail initiative and to ask that the $2.4 billion in Federal grants recently returned be redirected to our high-speed rail initiative. We believe this is an opportunity for the Administration to further its investment in the project that demonstrates the greatest potential for success. Awarding these funds to California will advance the President’s goals for high-speed rail, as expressed in the State of the Union.

California is leading the Nation in the development of high-speed rail. As you know, voters in our state have committed over $9 billion in bonds to high-speed rail – a unique level of public support that demonstrates that our state is a reliable, long term partner in this initiative. Combined with Federal grants, we have over $5.5 billion in funds allocated for construction that will begin in 2012. Californians know that these additional federal funds represent over 80,000 new manufacturing, construction, and technology jobs in our state. We are eager to expand our partnership with the Department of Transportation and get to work.

It is now clear that California will lead the way in demonstrating the viability of high speed rail to the rest of the country. We are ready to do so and look forward to working with the Department of Transportation to see the high-speed rail is a success in California, and the entire nation.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    “several states canceled their HSR projects.”

    An excellent idea for CA also. The CA HSR railroad to nowhere may be the boondoggle of all time.

    Elimination of the entire program would reduce the unbelievable deficit by a few billion dollars.

  • publius

    Elwood, I could not agree more. Well said.

  • John W

    Yikes! I concur with Elwood.