California high-speed rail proposal speeds construction

FRESNO, Calif.

The plan merges the bullet train with existing rail lines, which cut the cost to $68.4 billion. But the new cost is still $25 billion more than the plan voters approved in 2008.

"Our revised plan makes high-speed rail better, faster and cheaper," said High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard. "The revised plan will enhance local rail service immediately and, in the long term, cut total project costs by $30 billion."

According to the proposal, construction would be completed in 2028, which is five years earlier than originally planned. Construction begins this year on the first phase, which stretches from Merced to the San Fernando Valley, and is expected to be finished in 10 years.

"In 10 years, Californians will be able to travel through the Central Valley and into the Los Angeles Basin in half the time it takes to drive," said Gov. Jerry Brown. "This revised plan is bold, practical and puts California out in front once again."

Republican state Senator Doug LaMalfa (R-Oroville) is collecting signatures to try to get a measure on the ballot that will prevent the state from issuing bonds to help pay for the so-called "bullet train" plan.

The rail authority board is expected to consider the revised plan on April 12.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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