Trump plans to cancel nearly $1 billion in funding for high-speed rail

February 20, 2019

Amid an escalating feud between the Trump Administration and the state of California, a federal agency has announced its intent to revoke $928.6 million in funding already approved for California’s controversial high-speed rail project. [Cal Coast Times]

The planned high-speed rail, which President Donald Trump has criticized repeatedly, was initially intended to link Northern California to Southern California and, in particular, San Francisco to Los Angeles. The project has been delayed by problems with securing funding, acquiring privately held land and fighting legal challenges.

Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced during his State of the State address that California would shift its focus to constructing a rail line from Bakersfield to Merced. Trump responded by calling for the return of federal funds appropriated for the project.

On Tuesday, one day after California sued the Trump Administration over its plans to construct a border wall, federal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory sent a letter to California’s high-speed rail executive, Brian Kelly, saying the federal government plans to cancel its bullet train funding agreement, effective March 5. According to the letter, the high-speed rail authority materially failed to comply with the terms of the funding deal and failed to make reasonable progress on the project, allowing for the termination of the agreement.

The federal railroad administration has based its determination on many factors, including failure to adhere to a project expenditure and construction schedule and failure to provide timely and satisfactory financial reports, according to the letter. The federal agency determined that California will not complete the project by 2022, which is the end of the agreement’s period of performance.

Likewise, Batory wrote in the letter that Newsom’s state of the state signals California will not deliver on its obligations.

“During his recent state of the state address, Governor Newsom presented a new proposal that represents a significant retreat from the state’s initial vision and commitment and frustrates the purpose for which federal funding was awarded (i.e., an initial investment in the larger high-speed rail system),” Batory wrote in the letter.

If California can show it has satisfied its obligations under its agreement with the federal government; make reasonable progress to deliver the project; and prove Newsom’s announcement does not constitute a fundamental change in the purpose of the project, then the federal agency will take that information into account before formally terminating the deal, according to the letter.

Newsom called the cancellation of the federal funding retribution for California suing the Trump Administration.

“It’s no coincidence that the administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the president’s farcical ‘national emergency,’” Newsom said in a statement on Tuesday. “The president even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clearly political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that California has wasted billions of dollars on the high-speed rail project and that it appears California is leading the 16-state lawsuit against his administration. Trump also tweeted that a border is desperately needed and much cheaper than the bullet train.

On Wednesday morning, Trump again tweeted about the high-speed rail, demanding that federal funds be returned.

“California now wants to scale back their already failed ‘fast train’ project by substantially shortening the distance so that it no longer goes from L.A. to San Francisco,” Trump said in the tweet. “A different deal and record cost overruns. Send the federal government back the billions of dollars wasted!”


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incompingov

Complex engineering projects are doomed to failure once politicians get involved. The government is full of incompetent, unqualified, partisan people who easily swayed and mislead into making the wrong decisions. We sweated blood to win the race to the moon, then the politicians threw it all away. We spent billions on the space shuttle, and the politicians let it die with no replacement plan other than to rely on Russia to get the international space station (what a complete embarrassment for our country). These projects are TINY compared the Green New Deal. Can you imagine a huge fiasco that will be??!! The bullet train was a fraud perpetrated on the public by Sacramento politicians. Wasteful, shameful and no reprocussions for any politician involved.


Wildrnes

A brief history of the train experiment:https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_1A,_High-Speed_Rail_Act_(2008)

It has failed in so many ways. The money needs to go back to the taxpayers(you and I, my friends) not the feds. Trump will bilk the money to fund shady contractors to “build” the wall.


Rambunctious

Hey…if we are not going to finish the train we need to return the money we already have and we shouldn’t expect to receive more…It was not a wise move to begin with and now that is playing out for us to witness…pipe dreams….just like free education and free healthcare…just pipe dreams…


ml1999

Bad politically, and non-existent performance. Thank you, Democrats, thank you, Governor Moonbeam.


TKG

Congratulations to Gov. Gavin Newsom for not only making a nonsensical project even more so, but for spurring the Federal reaction to his lawsuits to keep California’s border porous for illegal immigrants. Of course it was “retribution” for California’s lawsuits and for the state’s Sanctuary policies in violation of Federal law. But with the Feds withdrawing nearly $1 billion of federal funding from the high speed rail project and demanding the return of an additional $3.5 billion in federal funding that the state has already wasted on the project, does Newsom realize that his hostile words and actions directed against the Federal Government may have provided the funding to construct Trump’s border barrier?


With the State Legislature’s actions to take away local control and self determination from local government mandating that local governments must approve high density housing projects without CEQA review, will the reduced high speed rail corridor between Merced and Bakersfield now become California’s next high density urban area running right down the throat of the most agriculturally productive soils in the nation? What a debacle!


shishkabob141

The name of the train pictured above is FLYCalifornia. The New Green deal would eliminate air travel, and now after spending tens of billions we won’t have much of a flying train after all. Oh the irony!

My guess is travelers from Bakersfield to Merced will be more inclined to continue driving their pickups than take the train anyway.

Newsom needs to realize if he doesn’t live up to his end of the bargain, (and how could he, it was a failed project to begin with) the Feds are going to come collecting on their nearly 1B.

This was nothing more than a huge waste of taxpayer funds, except to the few special people who made a fortune off of it.


rukidding

This will end up being a job killer for sure. We will see farm workers able to race up and down the valley from farm to farm reducing the amount of farm workers currently employed.


rukidding

Good for it Trump. Keep representing the people. The art of the deal for sure. Gavin, welcome to the real world of business where responsibility over rides irresponsibility.


slomark

Good! We’ve already wasted too many billions on this never-to-be-completed train.


Stunned

We want high speed rail from Bakersfield to Merced? Talk about two areas that (respectfully) aren’t moving at the speed of light to begin with! What a nonsensical plan by our governor.