$68.4B high-speed rail plan speeds construction

GOSIA WOZNIACKA Associated Press Published:

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- The authority overseeing planning for California's high-speed rail project has released a fresh proposal with a new price tag and a scaled-back design.

The plan released Monday after a news conference in Fresno merges the bullet train with existing commuter rail lines in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles basin.

It puts the cost at $68.4 billion and completion in 2028, about five years earlier and $30 billion less than a draft plan released last fall. The new cost is still $25 billion more than the plan voters approved four years ago.

Gov. Jerry Brown asked the California High-Speed Rail Authority to revamp its earlier proposal and make construction quicker and cheaper.

The updated plan calls for spending nearly $1 billion to electrify Caltrain between San Francisco and San Jose, which officials say would speed up rail service and possibly generate more riders.

The first segment would link the Central Valley to the San Fernando Valley in 10 years.