Capitol Alert

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Lawmakers preparing for a crucial vote this week on high-speed rail will see a bill tailored to include funding for regional transportation improvements in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, as well as language designed to address longstanding concerns about the California High-Speed Rail Authority's oversight of the project.

Lawmakers expect to consider the $68 billion project in committee on Thursday, before a floor vote in the Senate on Friday.

Draft bill language for initial funding of the project ties $5.8 billion for construction in the Central Valley - including $2.6 billion in rail bond funds and $3.2 billion from the federal government - to nearly $2 billion in funds to improve regional rail systems and connect them to high-speed rail.

The controversial project is a priority for Gov. Jerry Brown, and supporters have scrambled in recent days to lobby hesitant Democrats in the Legislature.

Even among supporters, the authority has been criticized in recent years for its changing cost estimates and public relations blunders.

Draft bill language would require the authority to outline financial risks of the project and produce a management plan "to ensure adequate oversight and management of contractors." The bill would also require the authority to fill the positions of chief executive officer, risk manager, chief program manager and chief financial officer before awarding construction contracts.

The authority would be required within a year to provide an analysis of the project's impact on greenhouse gas emissions.


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