FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Approximately $3.073 billion is headed to the California High-Speed Rail project- the largest single investment from the federal government to date.
"It allows us to move forward with the construction of the Fresno downtown station that will be a bridge between two neighborhoods that forever have been separated in Fresno," California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO, Brian Kelly said.
The money is also set to fund several other pieces of the project, including six electric trains for testing and use... and the final design and right-of-way acquisition for the Merced and Bakersfield extensions.
The rail grant comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act- giving a total of $8.2 billion to 10 projects nationwide.
Critics argue the rising costs outweigh the project's benefits, and the funds could be better spent on critical issues, such as the state's water crisis.
But supporters say it's an important step toward a sustainable future.
"We don't want to continue to build highways to pollute the air; we want to build high-speed rail to improve quality of life time-wise but also air-wise," Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi said.
As of last month, there are about 119 miles of high-speed rail under construction in the Central Valley.
"It connects the San Joaquin Valley to the powerhouse of the economic centers of the Bay Area, San Francisco-Nancy's beloved city-as well as Los Angeles," Representative Jim Costa said.
This new investment will keep the high-speed rail project on "track," the stretch between Merced and Bakersfield is expected to be done between 2030 and 2032.
Until then, people can expect construction along the path of the future tracks across the Central Valley.
Areas like Chinatown have been affected by the first phases of the project since 2015 - with Central Fish Company seeing an impact first-hand.
"Lots of street closures, people have had to find different ways to get to Chinatown, to get to Central Fish. Luckily, we have very loyal customers that stuck with us," Central Fish Company owner Morgan Doizaki said.
Fresno County Republican Party Chairwoman Elizabeth Kolstad shared a statement with Action News in response to the new funding:
"The Federal funding of $3.1 billion to continue financing CA High speed rail would be laughable if it was not such an egregious waste of money. For CA lawmakers like Rep Jim Costa- proudly taking credit for securing the funds- it is par for the course. The Democrats in this state are completely tone deaf to the needs of We the People. With ever-increasing inflation, effecting the lower and middle classes most, the financial situation of most households is dire. With rampant crime, penalty-free looting, no cash bail, human trafficking rings, open borders and upwards of 150 fentanyl related deaths daily, High Speed rail funding should be the last thing our representatives are spending time chasing. Many Californians are living paycheck to paycheck and could benefit enormously from serious tax relief. Make no mistake, when Federal money is "awarded," those funds are actually our hard-earned tax dollars being re-directed. Without taxpayer money, the government could not function. If Democratic politicians are not going to spend our taxes to fix problems like crime, homelessness and cannon-sized potholes in our streets, they may as well let us keep our money. High Speed Rail is a money pit that should have been scrapped years ago."