California will not complete $77 bln high-speed rail project -governor
(Adds Republican reaction)
By David Shepardson
Feb 12 (Reuters) - California Governor Gavin Newsom said on
Tuesday the state will not complete a $77.3 billion planned
high-speed rail project, but will finish a smaller section of
"The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and
take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough
transparency," Newsom said in his first State of the State
Address Tuesday to lawmakers.
"Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento
to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to (Los Angeles). I
wish there were," he said.
Newsom said the state will complete a 110-mile (177 km)
high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield. In March
2018, the state forecast the costs had jumped by $13 billion to
$77 billion and warned that the costs could be as much as $98.1
California planned to build a 520-mile system in the first
phase that would allow trains to travel at speeds of up to 220
miles per hour in the traffic-choked state from Los Angeles to
San Francisco and begin full operations by 2033.
Newsom said he would not give up entirely on the effort.
"Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have
wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and
lawsuits to show for it," he said. "And by the way, I am not
interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was
allocated to this project back to Donald Trump."
U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Republicans
cited a recent Democratic clean energy proposal in noting the
project's demise, tweeting that "the plug gets pulled on the
frequently delayed, over-budget San Francisco-LA (high-speed
rail) project. Reality: 1, #GreenNewDeal: 0."
The Obama administration awarded the state a total of $3.5
billion in 2010 and California voters in 2008 approved nearly
$10 billion in bond proceeds. The U.S. Transportation
Department's inspector general's office noted in August 2018
that the state had only identified $30.7 billion in funding, or
less than half the project's needs.
A spokesman for U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
did not immediately comment.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by David
Gregorio and Tom Brown)
First Published: 2019-02-12 22:44:20
Updated 2019-02-12 23:09:25
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