The California high-speed rail has hit another road block, this time to the tune of $929 million, as the Trump administration makes plans to revoke grants to fund the project. The reason cited is that the project did not meet grant obligations and deadlines, but liberals are quick to jump to their conspiracy theories and claim it’s just another ploy by the president to go after the Golden State. Californians are convinced Trump has a vendetta against them because of their sanctuary policies and refusal to work with ICE and other federal officials on controlling illegal immigration.
“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.’ The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear 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.”
However, it was Newsom who caused the action by announcing plans to cut back the project. “But let’s be real. The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long,” he said. “Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”
The Facts and Figures
Ten years ago, voters approved a $10 million bond to start the rail project that would build a high-speed train system from the Bay Area to San Diego. The original $40 billion cost has already ballooned to $77 billion, and is expected to keep climbing. However, the Federal Railroad Association (FRA) submitted a letter of its intent to terminate the agreement and de-obligate the full $928,620,000 promised in the contract, claiming the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) “failed to comply with the terms of the Agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the Project (as defined in Agreement), significantly endangering substantial performance.”
The letter cited several reasons for the decision, including not providing reports or dollar matching for the project:
“CHSRA committed to a $141.8 million State contribution to advance final design and construction activities in December 2018, but reported only $47.9 million of actual expenditures in that month. This almost $100 million difference shows not only CHSRA’s inability to deliver State contributions as outlined in the FCP, it is also an example of CHSRA’s failure to advance construction work and expend funds at a pace necessary to complete the Project according to its schedule.”
Newsom denies saying he didn’t want to finish the whole project, instead insisting he meant it needed a closer inspection and a different approach to make it work. He did, however, say they should concentrate on the tracks from Merced to Bakersfield, and get that portion rolling.
Many in the Central Valley do not want to see a high-speed rail come in and divide the land, especially farmers who might have to sell their livelihood due to eminent domain. CHSRA has yet to even secure all of the land needed for the project to continue, and with already being way over budget, the fate of the rail is looking grim.
Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) called Newsom’s plan to scale back “almost humorous.” “We’re going to put more billions into a train in a place where there is no ridership and no freight will be hauled,” he said. “What economy is that going to improve in the Central Valley? I was raised there. I farmed there. It is not the answer for the valley.”
Trump, never shy from sharing his opinion, tweeted his feelings on the matter, while also throwing in a plug for the border wall:
The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2019
Liberals can cry foul and blame the president all they want, but the facts are clear as day. The project is taking much longer than expected and is grossly over budget. The consideration of reclaiming the grant funds started last year, before Trump’s national emergency and before Newsom and other states joined in a lawsuit against the declaration, so saying it was in retaliation is a bit far-fetched. In reality, Newsom and his Democratic pals just needed some excuse to latch on to for their rebuttal – and the national emergency was conveniently at hand.