A last-minute round of campaigning Monday confirmed news of what may be a much-needed shot in the arm to California's economy: Lawmakers briefed by the Department of Transportation said that the state had won $902 million in federal funds to advance the design and construction of a high-speed rail system initially running from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
The money is in addition to $2.25 billion in stimulus money already earmarked for the development of high-speed rail in California. In 2008, voters approved nearly $10 billion in bonds to develop 800 miles of high-speed rail.
Supporters lauded the federal funding as a way to help revive the economy.
"This is a great announcement for California that will create jobs at a time that we really need them," said Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is engaged in a close re-election fight with Republican challenger former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. Fiorina also supports developing high-speed rail in California.
The DOT notified lawmakers of the money Monday and will make a formal announcement Thursday.
Most of the money from Monday's announcement will be targeted at the state's Central Valley -- a region that Republican challenger Carly Fiorina has particularly focused on as she seeks to upset Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
During a campaign stop Monday in Fresno, Fiorina said she supported more investment in the region but said the timing of the announcement was political and designed to help Boxer. Recent polls show the Democratic incumbent's lead in the Senate race is shrinking.
At a separate event, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, announced that $715 million of the total grant was earmarked specifically for the Central Valley to be the first part of the system to be built.
"This will begin the first phase of construction of state-of-the-art, high-speed rail in our nation," Costa said at a news conference at downtown Fresno's Amtrak station. "This is the largest sum allocated in the U.S. for the first phase of any high-speed rail corridor."
Costa said he believes construction could begin by 2012.
Representatives from the California High-Speed Rail Authority -- the agency tasked with developing the state's $40 billion high-speed rail system over the coming decade -- said today they have yet to receive official notification from the federal government of the award.
While the Obama administration hopes the grant announcements will boost the chances of Democratic candidates, some Republicans candidates are charging in the opposition directions.
The administration used stimulus funding to jump-start high-speed rail in several states earlier this year. But GOP candidates for governor in four of those states are opposed to or want to delay their state's projects. Objections came from Meg Whitman in California, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, and Florida's Rick Scott.
The Associated Press and the Fresno Bee contributed to this story.