The California High-Speed Rail Authority has been awarded more than $200 million from the Biden Administration in what is one of the largest pieces of federal funding awarded to the project in its history.
The $202 million grant was made by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the 2022 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program — part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021.
The grant funding will be used to complete six grade separations in the city of Shafter, about 18 miles northwest of Bakersfield in Kern County.
A grade separation is a roadway that is “re-aligned over or under a railway to eliminate hazards,” according to CAHSR.
Funding will be used to design and construct the grade separation, as well as purchase any outstanding right-of-way that will separate car and pedestrian traffic from trains along Poplar, Fresno, Shafter and Central avenues, Riverside Street and Lerdo Highway.
Once completed, they’ll eliminate street-level crossings at intersections along what is currently a busy freight rail corridor.
By reducing the crossings, the High-Speed Rail Authority hopes to reduce crashes and injuries and prepare the local community for the arrival of trains traveling at speeds of up to 220 mph.
CAHSR officials called the federal gift a strong showing of the continued partnership with the federal government.
In a news release, California Governor Gavin Newsom said his administration and the federal government are in “lock-step” in the mission to build cleaner and innovative transportation projects.
“These dollars signal our shared strong commitment to advance clean, electrified high-speed rail into the heart of some of the largest and fastest growing cities in California by the end of this decade,” Newsom said. “I welcome the federal government’s continued support for this major infrastructure project for Californians.”
Officials say construction on these grade separations in Shafter will hopefully begin in August 2025 and be completed by August 2028.
There are more than 25 current active construction sites and the High-Speed Rail Authority has cleared environmental hurdles along 422 miles of the Bay Area to Los Angeles segment.
The California High-Speed Rail is tentatively planned to open in 2030, operating the large middle section in the Central Valley which will connect Merced to Bakersfield along a 171-mile track.
Currently, 119 miles along that segment are under construction and CAHSR is looking to expand construction work into the remaining miles. These grade separations are the first to be funded outside of that active construction currently taking place.
In the last several weeks, CAHSR has taken the first step in obtaining trainsets capable of reaching the advertised speeds of 220 mph and released renderings of what the interior of these trains might look like when service begins.
In addition to the California High-Speed Rail, several other California transportation projects received grant funding from the Biden Administration. To view the full list of 70 projects chosen to receive funding through the CRISI program, click here.