Trump Pulls $1 Billion from California High Speed Rail Project

The California High Speed Rail Project is a political pawn in a contentious back and forth between the Golden State and the Trump administration.
May 17, 2019, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Michael Candelori

"The Trump administration made good Thursday on its threat to cancel nearly $1 billion in federal funds for California’s high-speed rail project, saying the state has “abandoned” its original plan for San Francisco-to-Los Angeles service in favor of a truncated line in the Central Valley," report Tal Kopan and John Wildermuth.

The Trump administration is making good on a threat to rescind the funding after California Governor Gavin Newsom spoke in his first state-of-state address about the need to reconsider the plan for the massive project. Gov. Newsom suggested focusing on the initial phase of the project between Bakersfield and Merced, the Federal Railroad Administration said that $928.6 million awarded to the project was dependent on the construction of the full, San Francisco to Los Angeles route.

"What’s more, it added, construction delays mean the state hasn’t complied with conditions for federal funding 'and has failed to make reasonable progress on the project,'" according to Kopan and Wildermuth.

California High Speed Rail Authority officials are quoted in the article saying the Trump administration decision will not kill the project. "The system has $9 billion from Proposition 1A, which voters approved in 2008; $2.55 billion in federal money that’s already been spent; and $500 million to $750 million a year in state cap-and-trade funds from air quality protection efforts," according to the article.

A separate article by Ralph Vartabedian and Stuart Leavenworth on the Trump administration's actions notes that in addition to rescinding the $929-million grant for project construction, the Federal Railroad Administration could still decide to force the state to reimburse "$2.5 billion in another grant that the state already has spent."

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Published on Friday, May 17, 2019 in San Francisco Chronicle
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