Newsom announced in his State of the State speechlast week that he will focus on finishing the high-speed rail line now under construction that will run 171 miles through the Valley from Merced to Bakersfield, rather than the original plan to connect from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.
Disputes over President Donald Trump's border wall and California's bullet train are intensifying the feud between the White House and the nation's most populous state.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said Monday it will cancel $928 million in federal grant funds previously allocated to the California high-speed rail project as the state failed to live up to its agreement.
Gavin Newsom speaks about his plans for addressing the housing shortage in California at Long Beach City College, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 Photo by Sarahi Apaez.
The administration's move comes amid escalating tensions between it and Democratic leaders of the most populous USA state. Newsom, who favored legalization, has vowed to crack down on illegal marijuana operations, pulling California National Guard troops away from assisting with border enforcement to do so.
Trump has lambasted California's high-speed rail project, in the works for more than a decade, as wasteful and called for the state to return federal funding. This is clear political retribution by president Trump, and we won't sit idly by.
In response, a California state Senate staffer involved in the project told the Los Angeles Times that delays and changes to infrastructure projects are common.
"At every turn, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has mismanaged and misled Californians on the viability of the project".
Yesterday the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) sent a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) informing the state agency that the FRA plans to cancel more than $900 million in federal funds set aside to assist in the construction of the Central Valley portion of the route.
That point was echoed in the Transportation Department's letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority. If the funds are lost or tied up in a long legal battle, the state would probably have to either make up the money elsewhere or further curtail the project.
"There are 47 other cities across California that are not complying with their planning requirements in one way or another", Newsom said. The US government has spent billions helping construct a high-speed rail line in California. The state has not started spending that money. Newsom said preliminary work on the entire system would continue and that he would seek more federal and private funding. It's unclear if the federal government can demand that money back before the 2022 deadline. Instead it could withhold money from other transportation projects.
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