The Democrat-led state Senate voted Friday to authorize spending funds to build a high-speed rail system connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, which has long been a pet project of Gov. Jerry Brown
The 21-16 vote follows a state Assembly vote 51-27 on Thursday that authorized the spending. Democrats voted in favor of the project, and Republicans voted against.
SB1029 would allow the state to begin selling $2.6 billion in voter-approved bonds to finance the first 130 miles of track from Madera to Bakersfield. The federal government has agreed to chip in $3.2 billion for a total of nearly $6 billion to build the initial segment.
The votes pave the way for California to start construction of the first segment of the rail system. Nearly $6 billion would be spent on laying the groundwork to lay the first tracks in the Central Valley, while the rest of the money would be spent on bullet trains in the Bay Area and Southern California.
Democrats have long wanted the bullet train to put California on the cutting edge of transportation and bring relief to the state's transportation network.
Estimates now are that the railroad will cost $69 billion to build.