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Officials Eye Union Station For Calif. High-Speed Rail

450k permanent new jobs projected
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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Over $30 million in federal stimulus funds has been set aside for buying property and doing other preliminary work in the Los Angeles area for a high-speed rail system that would run from San Diego to the Bay Area, transit officials said Wednesday.

California High-Speed Rail Authority and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said the money might be used to buy Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, where three segments of the line would converge.

“Metro is thrilled to learn of the CHRSA’s intent to invest newly acquired federal funds into Southern California,” said county Supervisor Don Knabe, who heads the Metro board.

“Metro looks forward to working closely with the High-Speed Rail Authority to make the kind of investments that will be beneficial to both agencies as we build a 21st century transportation network that will give L.A. County travelers a welcome alternative to traffic and rising gas prices,” Knabe added.

Using the money from the Federal Railroad Administration to buy Union Station may have the added benefit of improving operations and service for Metro light-rail, Amtrak, Metrolink and the Metro bus system, officials said.

It will also create jobs, said Tom Umberg, vice chairman of the CHSRA board.

“In addition to creating a safe, efficient and fast alternative for travel within our state, we expect to create 600,000 construction-related jobs over the life of the project, and 450,000 new, permanent jobs once the entire system is built,” he said.

“There’s no question high-speed rail will turn this initial investment into immediate benefits for the region and for the state.”

The CHSRA is planning a high-speed train would operate at speeds of up to 220 mph and link the state’s major metro areas. It is being funded through a voter-approved bond, public-private partnerships and federal grants.

Aside from the $30 million allotted for Los Angeles, the Federal Railroad Administration also awarded grants of $500,000 each for station design in Merced and Bakersfield, and $4.5 million for station area planning in Fresno, Visalia/Kings, Bakersfield, Merced, Palmdale, Gilroy and San Jose, among others.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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