State gets funding to improve Amtrak’s Surfliner route


California was awarded $51 million in federal economic stimulus funding Thursday to make improvements to Amtrak’s Surfliner route, which links San Diego and San Luis Obispo via Los Angeles.

The money will be used for the construction of tracks and crossovers to improve on-time performance and ultimately allow for train speeds of up to 110 miles per hour on the segment connecting Los Angeles and San Diego, according to the White House.

The funding was part of $8 billion in Recovery Act grants announced by President Barack Obama to establish 13 high-speed rail corridors across the country.

California will receive $2.25 million - the largest amount of any state in the nation - for a high-speed rail project to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco with trains that run up to 220 miles per hour.

The high-speed rail funding will be used for four segments of the project - Los Angeles to Anaheim; San Jose to San Francisco; Fresno to Merced; and Bakersfield to Fresno. Ultimately, the high speed rail will be extended to connect San Diego and Los Angeles, through Riverside.

California voters in November 2008 approved Proposition 1A, which authorized $9.95 billion in bond funds to be used toward the project, which is projected to cost $45 billion - although opponents argued the cost would be much higher.

The state had applied for $4.5 billion in federal funds. Obama announced the funding during an appearance in Florida, which received $1.3 billion for its own planned high-speed rail line.

“State leaders fought hard for this investment because it means jobs, jobs, jobs for Californians,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said. “Thanks to our leading high-speed rail plan and the Obama administration’s investment, we will be able to create jobs, stimulate our economy and be home to the first true high-speed rail system to break ground in the nation.

“California’s leaders came together to support and submit one high-speed rail proposal and because of that $2.3 billion will now flow into the California economy,” he said.