The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded a $24 million grant to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CaHSRA), advancing the nation’s first high-speed rail system while enhancing and better connecting the community of Wasco (Kern County).
The grant was one of three California USDOT Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grants, totalling $56.5 milliion. Overall, about $1 billion in RAISE grants have been awarded to 90 projects in 47 states and the District of Columbia and Guam.
In California, the other two grants were for:
- $18 million: Rural Yerba Buena Island West Side Bridges Seismic Retrofit Project, and
- $14,507,075: Urban Reconnecting Oakland: Safe, Reliable, and Equitable Access
Regarding the Wasco project, the CaHSRA says it will use the $24 million for “crucial safety, efficiency and construction projects in and around Wasco.
“High-speed rail is about connecting Californians and our diverse communities,” said CaHSRA CEO Brian Kelly. “As we build this transformative system, we continue to work and collaborate with communities throughout the state to create jobs, spur economic development and improve quality of life.”
Specific Wasco-area work will include:
- Lowering State Route 46 to properly accommodate trucks passing under the railroad, which carries both passenger and freight trains, preventing polluting and heavy-duty trucks from using smaller neighborhood streets;
- Better and safer multimodal connectivity across the freight corridor with a new sidewalk, an enhanced State Route 46, and an efficient roundabout;
- Enhancing adjacent properties affected by the project and working with the city to prepare them for improved land use and economic development.
“The City of Wasco is very pleased with today’s announcement,” said city manager Scott Hurlbert. “It’s a great example of multi-agency teamwork and recognition of significant local needs. This funding will resolve a tremendous financial burden for the city and help us move our community forward with confidence.”
Taken together, this grant helps bring improvement, safety, environmental justice, and economic development to a historically disadvantaged community. North and south of Wasco, the authority has 119 miles under construction with 35 active construction sites in the Central Valley.
To date, more than 6,000 construction jobs have been created since the start of construction, CaHSRA says in a statement.