By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives panel plans to vote next week on legislation that includes $10 billion in government assistance for high-speed-rail corridors.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure proposal also includes $10 billion to enhance mobility for low-income Americans, including establishing new transit routes and funding for a fare-free service. The money is expected to be included in a $3.5 trillion government spending bill.
The transit funds would also go to boost transit frequency and improvement projects. During Senate negotiations over a separate $1 trillion infrastructure measure, $10 billion transit funding was cut.
The bill includes $6 billion to advance local surface transportation projects, $4 billion to reduce surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and $1 billion on low-emission aviation technologies like sustainable aviation fuels.
Last month, California said it plans to compete for billions in funding for rail projects.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime investment in rail. We see somewhere between $20-30 billion in funding we can compete in to get funds for the California high-speed rail project, and that’s what we intend to do," said Melissa Figueroa, a spokeswoman for the state's high speed rail authority.
In June, President Joe Biden's administration restored a $929 million grant for California's high-speed rail program. Biden's Republican predecessor Donald Trump in 2019 pulled funding for the project, which has been hobbled by extensive delays and rising costs, calling it a "disaster."
Biden, a Democrat, strongly supports high-speed rail and has vowed to ensure the United States "has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world."
California bills its system as the first high-speed rail project in the country, and aims to complete it in the 2030s. The cost was estimated at $80 billion in 2020 but could ultimately be as high as $99.8 billion.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sonya Hepinstall)