BARSTOW • The Obama administration's strategic plan for spending the $8 billion in stimulus funding allotted to high-speed rail projects makes no mention of a proposed rail line from Anaheim to Las Vegas that would stop in Barstow.
Project proponents are still hopeful that some of the funds may come their way.
The plan released Thursday by President Barack Obama and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood lists 10 designated high-speed rail corridors where projects are eligible to receive funding, none of which include the Anaheim to Las Vegas route.
A California corridor connecting the Bay Area with Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego is one of those listed in the plan.
In addition to the $8 billion designated for high speed rail in the stimulus plan, President Obama proposed to create a $1 billion per year grant program for high-speed rail projects.
The funding approach proposed in the strategic plan would allow stimulus dollars to be used to build "ready to go" projects with preliminary engineering and environmental work completed, to develop corridor-wide proposals, or to fund the planning process for corridors not yet ready for construction.
Bruce Aguilera, chair of the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission, which is tasked with moving the Anaheim to Las Vegas train project forward, stated via email that the project proponents still plan to file a request for stimulus funds and expect to be eligible.
"We have a plan and (are) moving fast to have the first leg built during the president's first term," Aguilera wrote.
Lori Irving, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Department of Transportation, said projects that are not located in the existing corridors may still be eligible to compete for some of the stimulus funds.
The Barstow City Council voted March 31 to take an official stance supporting the Anaheim to Las Vegas train proposal, known as the California-Nevada Interstate Maglev Project. The proposal would involve running a high-speed train using magnetic levitation technology along the route, with stops in Ontario, Victorville, Barstow, and Primm, with its central maintenance yard to be located in Barstow.
The first leg of the project, as proposed, would run from Las Vegas to Primm, at an anticipated cost of $1.3 billion. The total cost of the 268-mile route is projected at $12 to $15 billion.
The project had already been designated for $45 million in federal funds prior to the stimulus package, but proponents need to find 20 percent matching funds before the federal money can be released.
The City Council also agreed to voice its opposition to a competing proposal, the privately funded DesertXpress, which would run from Victorville to Las Vegas without a stop in Barstow.
The transportation department is required to issue a full set of application guidelines by June 17, and the Obama administration expected to announce the first round of grant awards before the end of the summer.
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