High-Speed Rail Authority moves forward on agreement with Southern California transportation agencies

The agreement could pump millions of dollars into projects in Los Angeles County, including the Regional Connector and speeding up Metrolink’s Antelope Valley line. Here’s the news release from the California High-Speed Rail Authority:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Board of Directors voted during their March 1 meeting to support the development of a Memorandum of Understanding with Southern California transportation agencies that outlines a shared commitment to progress the development of high-speed rail while providing funding for local early investment projects in Southern California that will improve rail service immediately.

 “With this MOU, it’s clear that we now have the opportunity to start construction on the HSR project in Southern California, in addition to the Central Valley,” said Dan Richard, Chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board. “These early investment opportunities in the south are very much in line with the blended approach outlined in our Business Plan and we see great potential in these efforts, as it will lead to immediate infrastructure improvements, while preparing for future build out using a phased approach. We look forward to developing similar agreements up and down the state, including Northern California.”

 Agencies that have already approved the MOU include: Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), and the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink).

 Specifically, the Authority would identify $1 billion in Prop 1A or other funds that could be used for early investment projects along the high-speed rail corridors, as defined in the Authority’s Business Plan. Meanwhile, regional agencies would work with the Authority to find matching funds in order to improve existing railways and deliver the HSR system sooner to Southern California. The coordinated effort defines a new interagency partnership, promoting a cohesive rail system that will enhance connectivity.

 All agencies will coordinate to develop a Candidate Project list for early investment in Southern California by 2020. In addition, the agencies will prepare performance criteria for selecting and prioritizing the projects from the Candidate Project list. These projects will be recommended to the Legislature, which is uniquely responsible for approval and appropriation.