In summary

The state has issued its first round of bonds to finance the construction of the state-crossing, GOP-enraging infrastructure project.

California just made a $1.25 billion bet on the future of high-speed rail.

Last Thursday the state issued its first round of bonds to finance the construction of the state-crossing, GOP-enraging infrastructure project.

That comes as a financial vote of confidence for the controversial transportation scheme that has been dogged by litigation, delays, and other obstacles for years. One of those hurdles comes from the Trump administration itself, which decided last February to hold off on approving a $647 million grant that would have helped electrify a stretch of track slated for future high-speed train traffic.

Computer-generated image of the proposed high-speed trains for use in California. Photo via California High-Speed Rail Authority

So far, the state has borrowed roughly $1 billion to fund preparation and design for the project. But these new dollars will be the first to go towards actual construction, which began in 2015. With bond funding held up by litigation, the preliminary work has so far been funded primarily with federal dollars and revenue from the state’s cap and trade greenhouse gas allowance auctions. This new round of borrowing represents a “milestone” for the program, according to Rail Authority spokesperson, Lisa Marie Alley.

In 2008, voters gave the state the go-ahead to borrow nearly $10 billion to fund a 220 mile-per-hour rail network that would connect the Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California. If all goes well, the San Francisco-to-Anaheim leg will be complete by 2029.

But all may not go well. Federal funding issues aside, a Sacramento County Superior Court will hear the latest legal contest to the project—this one objecting to the state’s ability to spend those newly borrowed dollars—tomorrow.

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Ben Christopher

Ben covers California politics and elections. Prior to that, he was a contributing writer for CalMatters reporting on the state's economy and budget. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, he has written...