Federal funding that was in limbo earlier this year for a Caltrain electrification project will be approved after all, federal transportation officials announced Monday.
A $647 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration had been approved in the final days of President Barack Obama’s administration and was set to be sent in February, but Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, appointed by President Donald Trump, initially declined to sign off on the funds.
Members of the Republican congressional delegation had complained that the project also draws funds from a high-speed rail project they oppose, but Bay Area Democrats in Congress pushed for Chao to sign off on the funding, saying thousands of jobs were at stake.
The money will come after all, with federal transportation officials saying in a statement Monday that the FTA “intends to sign” off on the funding, known as the San Carlos Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project Full Funding Grant Agreement.
The nearly $2 billion electrification project is expected to reduce emissions, save fuel and reduce traffic by increasing capacity on the overcrowded Caltrain system that currently carries about 65,000 people per day.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, issued statements following Monday’s announcement.
“Secretary Chao has done the right thing and committed the federal government to fulfill its obligation to see this project through completion.”
Speier said the project is “shovel-ready” once the funding is approved and called today “a great day for jobs, clean air and decongestion of traffic in the Bay Area.”