SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Transportation is giving its approval for work to begin on the first leg of California's proposed high-speed rail line.
The decision announced Friday allows the state to begin acquiring land along the 114-mile route between Fresno and Bakersfield. It essentially endorses the environmental review by the state agency that oversees the $68 billion project.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx calls it a "major step forward" for high-speed rail in the U.S.
The state still needs approval from the federal Surface Transportation Board before it can start construction.
California's bullet train project has been beset by legal hurdles, including a court ruling that has prevented the state from selling $8.6 billion in bonds. State officials say they are spending federal money while that decision is appealed.
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