California budget ends high-speed rail standoff, sends billions to other projects

By Eliyahu Kamisher : montereyherald – excerpt

High-speed rail agreement solidifies 171-mile Central Valley link

After wrangling over the future of California’s high-speed rail, state lawmakers plan to release a critical batch of money to finish a bullet train in the Central Valley, while also establishing an inspector general to audit the beleaguered project and authorizing billions of dollars in new money for rail plans across the state.

The agreement, included in a budget trailer bill that passed the Assembly Thursday night, ends a year-plus deadlock in Sacramento on how to spend the last chunk of $4.2 billion in bond funds for high-speed rail, which voters approved in 2008. Gov. Gavin Newsom wanted to march forward with laying track in Central Valley farmland and eventually connecting Bakersfield to Merced, but leading Democratic lawmakers blasted the Central Valley link and sought to reroute transit funds closer to their constituents in urban centers…(more)

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