US transportation secretary wants high speed funding

Kitty Felde/KPCC

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is calling on state lawmakers to approve funding for high speed rail in California “sooner rather than later."

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is calling on state lawmakers to approve funding for high speed rail in California “sooner rather than later."

He visited Sacramento on Thursday for meetings with legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown.

LaHood says his visit is in response to reports that several hearings may take place this summer before a decision is made.

"We need to have a signal much earlier than September that they’re going to meet their commitment," he says, noting that the Obama Administration has committed more than $3 billion to the project.

Democratic Senator Joe Simitian chairs the sub-committee that’s examining high speed rail.

"To do this on the quick," he says, "to feel like somehow we have to do a hurry-up drill to meet an artificial timeline just doesn’t make sense in my view.”

Last month the California High Speed Rail Authority released a revised business plan in an attempt to address concerns about the project. The Democratic leader of the State Senate says he’s confident an acceptable timetable can be worked out.

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