California officials OK $8.6 bln in debt for high-speed rail

SAN FRANCISCO, March 18 Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:25pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO, March 18 (Reuters) - California officials approved on Monday the sale of up to $8.6 billion in state bonds to help build a planned high-speed rail system projected to cost $68 billion.

The votes by the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the state's High-Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee authorize the sale of the general obligation debt, approved by voters in 2008.

Some of the debt will need to be appropriated by the legislature and the timing and size of bond sales will be determined by the need for funds for building the system, according to the state treasurer's office and state finance department.

California aims to use funds from the federal government to help build the system and to attract private-sector money for it as well. The project is intended to eventually link far-flung metropolitan areas across the most populous U.S. state.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority aims to break ground later this year on the first leg in the state's Central Valley. The project will be financed by state and federal funds.

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