In summary

After months of hemming and hawing, the Department of Transportation announced it will approve a $647 million grant to fund the electrification of the Caltrain rail corridor that connects San Francisco and San Jose.

Photo by DF4D-0070

After months of hemming and hawing, the Department of Transportation announced today that it will be approving a $647 million grant to fund the electrification of the Caltrain rail corridor that connects San Francisco and San Jose.

That has some California Democrats praising the heavens, if not the Trump administration.

“This is an ‘Alleluia’ moment,” Silicon Valley Congresswoman Anna Eshoo said in a statement. “Today, I am proud that our generation is able to build something worthy of the future of our region.”

The fate of the electrification project has hung in political limbo since mid-February, when Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that she would hold off on approving the money. Caltrain officials applied for the grant in the final months of the Obama administration, and the fate of these dollars has been seen as one of many political flashpoints between California and the Trump administration.

Governor Brown and other California Democrats spent much of the spring lobbying the Department of Transportation, along with high-ranking California Republicans like Kevin McCarthy, to nudge the Trump administration toward approval. It remains unclear whether that charm offensive was responsible for today’s decision, but leading Democrats are already congratulating one another.

“This would have not been possible without the help of the local leaders who pushed for the project and my congressional colleagues who agreed to enact funding,” Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement. “This is a win for everyone involved.”

Well, maybe not everyone.

The administration’s decision to hold off earlier this year came weeks after all of California’s Republican Congress members penned a letter asking Chao to wait until the state’s high-speed rail project was subjected to an audit. Though the Silicon Valley electrification project is distinct from the High Speed Rail system, the California bullet train would run along the newly electrified tracks.

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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...