LaHood: California high-speed rail approval is 'terrific news'

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By agreeing to appropriate the funding for the high-speed railway, California state lawmakers provided validation to a project the Obama administration has contributed more than $3 billion.

The approval provided a contrast with other states that won high-speed rail money from the Obama administration in the 2009 economic stimulus, which included $8 billion for rail proposals. Republican governors in Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida all turned down the money after being in elected in 2010.

LaHood liked the political outcome in California a lot better.  

"Californians know they need a new option for inter-city travel," he wrote Monday. "The governor knows it; California’s mayors know it. And now, the state legislature has signaled that they know it, too."

The construction of the first phase of the California, from Merced to Bakersfield, is expected to built by 2017. Trains are the line projected to run at up to 220 miles per hour.

Republicans in Congress have tried to block the construction of the California railway.

"I’m fighting to prevent federal funds @CaHSRA," Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) tweeted last month after introducing an amendment to prevent money in the recently approved surface transportation bill from going to the California railway.

"Let’s do more ‪#4jobs‬ & not throw money at a project that isn’t ready," he wrote.

LaHood offered a different take Monday however, writing that "[U]ltimately, California High Speed Rail will deliver passengers safely and reliably between San Francisco Bay and the Los Angeles Basin in less than three hours, setting a very competitive bar for high speed rail in the U.S."