Funding for high-speed rail eliminated in next year’s federal budget

President Obama signed a bill today authorizing transportation spending for the next fiscal year. The big news: no money was allocated for high-speed rail — which Republicans had been targeting as wasteful — while there were slight bumps upward in funds for transit projects.

The obvious question is what does this mean, if anything, for California’s high-speed rail project? The project has already been awarded $3.9 billion in federal funds.

Here’s the top of the Associated Press story:

Congress voted Thursday to kill funds for President Barack Obama’s signature high-speed rail program, but the initiative may have some life in it still.

Republican lawmakers are claiming credit for killing the program. But billions of dollars still in the pipeline will ensure work will continue on some projects. And it’s still possible money from another transportation grant program can be steered to high-speed trains.

Obama had requested $8 billion in fiscal 2012 for the program and $53 billion over six years.

But House-Senate bargainers this week agreed to a broad spending bill that eliminates any funding specifically for high-speed trains. The House approved that legislation Thursday 298-121 and the Senate followed suit 70-30, sending the measure to the White House.

It sounds like there is money available to begin construction on high-speed rail tracks on the first segment of the line in the San Joaquin Valley, but the project overall remains more than $80 billion shy of the funds needed to build the entire line from San Francisco to Anaheim. Whether the state chooses to begin construction next year without those dollars remains to be seen.