Gov. Brown signs high-speed rail bill

The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced Thursday it

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday authorizing initial construction of California’s $68 billion high-speed rail line.

The signature comes less than two weeks after Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority pushed the project through the Legislature by a bare majority, a major victory for the Democratic governor.

The bill authorizes $5.8 billion to start construction of a high-speed rail line in the Central Valley, including $2.6 billion in state rail bond funds and $3.2 billion in federal aid. To gain political support for the project in the state’s most densely populated areas, the administration also included $1.9 billion in state rail bond proceeds to improve urban rail systems and connect them to high-speed rail.

“This legislation will help put thousands of people in California back to work,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “By improving regional transportation systems, we are investing in the future of our state and making California a better place to live and work.”

Brown signed the rail bill at an event at Los Angeles’ Union Station, his office said. He is scheduled to fly this afternoon to San Francisco, where he will hold a similar event at the construction site of the city’s new Transbay Transit Center.

The appearances will keep Brown conspicuously away from the Central Valley, where opposition to the project remains fierce. Farmers and other groups there are suing to block the project.

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