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Assembly approves bill to staff high-speed rail project office
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California’s effort to establish a high-speed rail system received a boost Tuesday, as the state legislature approved a bill to hire additional staff and prepare a plan to spend a recent influx of stimulus funds.

Assembly Bill 289, penned by Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani (D—Livingston), would create an Office for Project Controls and Risk Management within the High-Speed Rail Authority. It awaits Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature before becoming law.

“The High-Speed Rail Authority Director has the task of building the largest transportation project in the country with an agency that still has only nine employees,” Galgiani said. “I introduced AB 289 last year when it was immediately apparent that the agency was in dire need of additional professional staff to keep up with the burgeoning project.”

The HSRA was awarded a $2.25 billion federal stimulus grant in January, and recently applied for another $1 billion grant. The stimulus money will be available for preliminary engineering, environmental work, design and construction for certain corridors.

The bill – and the new office – would ensure the HSRA spends stimulus funds in a manner consistent with the High Speed Bond Act, approved by voters in 2008.

“These positions are absolutely essential if we expect the agency to oversee the largest infrastructure project in the country and meet the reporting requirements of the Bond Measure and the legislature,” Galgiani said. “If we want the job done right we must provide the resources needed to do it.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.