- Associated Press - Monday, May 22, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Trump administration announced Monday that it will fully fund a $650 million federal grant for electrification of a San Francisco Bay Area train system that also would help California’s high-speed rail project.

The government previously delayed a decision when congressional Republicans objected. But the Federal Transit Administration said in a statement that the Caltrain project had “met all of the statutory requirements” for the funding.

Members of California’s GOP delegation had asked President Donald Trump’s administration to block approval of the grant to electrify a major commuter line, Caltrain, between San Jose and San Francisco until an audit of the bullet train’s finances is completed.

They said providing additional funding to help the $64 billion high-speed rail project would be an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars.

Future bullet trains would need electrified rails and high-speed rail’s business plan calls for the two systems to share lines along the Peninsula Corridor in the Bay Area.

Monday’s announcement includes $100 million already allocated for Caltrain this fiscal year and an additional $547 million over the next five years.

“This is exactly the type of infrastructure investment our country needs,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said in a statement.

Caltrain officials say the $2 billion project will create as many as 10,000 jobs in half a dozen states, including 500 in Utah where a manufacturer is set to open a facility to build more rail cars.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who lobbied Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to release the funding, said it will expand service on a congested corridor, improve air quality and put thousands of people to work.

“Secretary Chao did the right thing on Caltrain. This is not only good for California, it’s good for America,” Brown said in a statement.

Congressional Republicans who pushed for the funding delay did not immediately issue statements on the funding.

Trump has spoken favorably of high-speed rail and lamented that the United States is behind many other countries that have bullet trains.

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