Trump administration pulls $929 million in funding for California high-speed rail

Dream vs. reality: A rendering of California’s high-speed rail project that is supposed to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles

Source: California High-Speed Rail Authority

LOS ANGELES — The Federal Railroad Administration announced Thursday that it terminated a nearly $929 million grant to the California High-Sped Rail Authority as part of a 2010 agreement.

In a release, the FRA — part of the U.S. Department of Transportation — said California’s rail authority “repeatedly failed to comply with the terms of the FY10 agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the project. Additionally, California has abandoned its original vision of a high-speed passenger rail service connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, which was essential to its applications for FRA grant funding.”

In addition, the FRA said it “continues to consider all options regarding the return of $2.5 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds awarded to CHSRA.”

In February, President Donald Trump called for California to return $3.5 billion in federal funds for the high-speed rail line planned between the San Francisco and Los Angeles. The DOT followed by announcing its intention to cancel $929 million in grant funds awarded previously but not yet paid out.

Trump’s call for the return of money followed Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom at his first state of the state address on Feb. 12 announcing a reeling in of the state’s high-speed rail project, saying the current plan “would cost too much and take too long.” He added, “There simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to LA.”

“The Trump administration’s action is illegal and a direct assault on California, our green infrastructure, and the thousands of Central Valley workers who are building this project,” Newsom said in a statement Thursday.

The governor added, “Just as we have seen from the Trump administration’s attacks on our clean air standards, our immigrant communities and in countless other areas, the Trump administration is trying to exact political retribution on our state. This is California’s money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court.”

Construction is underway on the first leg of the bullet train, a 119-mile section in the state’s Central Valley. More than $6 billion has already been spent on the California high-speed rail project.

Back in 2008, California voters approved Proposition 1A, authorizing nearly $10 billion in bond money for the construction of the high-speed rail system. Since the vote, though, the project been plagued by delays and cost overruns.

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