California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has signed an initial funding bill to invest $4.7bn for a $68bn high-speed rail project in the US state.
The new bill, which includes a $2.6bn investment matched by additional federal funds, allows California to claim $3.2bn for the train project, which will link San Francisco and Los Angeles.
"By improving regional transportation systems, we are investing in the future of our state and making California a better place to live and work," Brown said.
Speaker John A. Pérez revealed that the legislation authorises the first leg of construction for the development.
"This ambitious project will create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars for our state, and my colleagues and I have been very pleased to work with the governor to keep this project moving forward," Pérez added.
Construction of the initial segment of rail, linking Merced to the San Fernando Valley, is slated to commence in April 2013.
The bill also includes $1.92bn funding for local rail projects to improve connectivity across the state. The funding will support a 2-mile light rail connection that will be built in southern California to link existing Metro transit and provide a one-seat ride to Union Station.
More than $700m will be allocated to the San Francisco Bay Area to modernise the Caltrain system with electrified rail, in a bid to make it ready for high-speed connectivity by 2019. Additional matching federal and local funding of $2bn will be provided for improvements in the Bay Area.
The funds will also be used for replacing train cars on major commuter services, such as BART in the Bay Area, as well as implementing positive train control and an automated safety system designed to stop train collisions.
An additional $7.9bn of federal and local funds will be provided to California for the state's transit systems, which provide over 950 million trips every year.
Image: Construction on the initial segment of high-speed rail will start in April 2013. Photo: courtesy of California High Speed Raill Authority.