Feds OK Caltrain’s electrification funding

Caltrain will get its electrification funding from the federal government.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced today it will sign the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) that will allow the railroad to proceed with its $1.9 billion project to electrify the corridor and buy new electric trains.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo called the announcement an “alleluia moment,” in a press release sent out following the announcement. It “is a clear victory for my constituents and the people of the Bay Area,” she said. “This critical upgrade is one of the key transportation job creators in the country. It will enhance the spine of the Silicon Valley transportation system. It’s a win for the environment. It’s a win for the tenaciousness of the Bay Area Congressional Delegation, led by Leader (Nancy) Pelosi and our Senators (Dianne) Feinstein and (Kamala) Harris.”

The official announcement followed a letter sent last week from Gov. Jerry Brownto Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao asking her to to approve the agreement, but it says the OK is based on the federal funding bill signed May 5 that included a $100 million down payment on the full $647 million grant to Caltrain.

The announcement noted: “As with all signed FFGAs, additional funding amounts specified in the agreement are subject to the Congressional Appropriations process during future years. The FTA notified the Caltrain project sponsors today.”

The FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program is the nation’s primary grant program for funding major transit capital investments. Projects accepted into the highly competitive program must go through a multi-year, multi-step process outlined in legislative requirements in order to receive program funds.

Caltrain had expected FTA approval in February before California’s 14-member Republican delegation in Congress objected to the grant on the grounds that it would help high-speed rail — a project they wish to block — reach its northern terminus in San Francisco.

Caltrain argued that the project, even though partly funded by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, was needed anyway to cut commute times and increase passenger capacity.

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