Monday, September 13, 2010

California looks to China for HSR funding

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in Shanghai Monday that California will seek China's help in building its estimated $44 billion high speed rail system.

So far, the federal government has pledged $2.25 billion of the funding through the high speed rail stimulus plan; state voters in 2008 approved another $9.95 billion in debt financing to launch the project. To help fill the huge remaining gap, Schwarzenegger said California would seek funding from China as well as construction bids from Chinese companies.

“We look to China to build our high speed rail, to be part of the bidding process that we are going to go through,” Schwarzenegger told a U.S. trade mission. Noting that “many countries will be bidding to build our high speed rail,” he said California would also seek Chinese funding.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in Seattle last week that federally financed Americans trains should built in the U.S. There has long been strong “Buy America” requirements for federally-aided transit equipment, and a number of foreign firms have established construction plants in the U.S. The Federal Railroad Administration’s curent requirements for HSR projects call for 100% U.S. content—in the opinion of some, an unrealistic provision.